Dinner for 900 Builds “Zero Waste” Tradition

Posted on February 26th, 2020

The Petoskey Rotary Club’s Spaghetti Dinner was held for the 68th time Thursday night, making it what might be called a “venerable tradition.” At the same time, in the area of recycling and composting, it is a cutting edge leader.

The spaghetti dinner fundraiser was the first event in the area to achieve “zero waste”—meaning it cut its garbage from a 2017 baseline by over 90 percent. The event serves roughly 900 all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinners a year in the Petoskey High School cafeteria. In years prior to the zero-waste initiative, it typically ended with 20 garbage bags full of plastic utensils and Styrofoam plates and cups destined to spend eternity in area landfills, most recently the Republic Service dump south of Onaway. Even worse, under the low-oxygen conditions landfills are designed to create, the food scraps in those bags decompose anaerobically, creating methane, a greenhouse gas 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

This year, the dinner’s garbage was limited to a few ice cream buckets. Made of a combination of paper, plastic, and metal, they were not recyclable.

Emmet County Recycling staffer Lindsey Walker said, “Ideally Rotary’s dinner would eliminate waste entirely by serving on real dishes, but

ECR Commended in U.S. Congressional Committee Hearing

Posted on February 6th, 2020

From our February 5, 2020 media release on the topic:

A popular regional recycling program operated by Emmet County was held up as an example of successful rural recycling programs on Wednesday, Feb. 5 in Washington, D.C. during a hearing by the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations.

The hearing on “Strengthening Community Recycling Programs: Challenges and Opportunities,” was convened to explore how the federal government can partner with states and counties to increase recycling.

Emmet County was first mentioned in testimony by Adam Ortiz on behalf of the National Association of Counties. He said, “Emmet County, Michigan is a rural county with a population of 33,000. The county offers curbside collection services to 60 percent of its residents and operates 13 recycling drop-off sites. In total, 80 percent of county residents participate in the program, and as a result, Emmet County has a recycling rate of 40 percent, five percent higher than the national average.

The county began making investments to improve recycling efforts in the 1990s through state grants; a voter-approved, two-year dedicated recycling tax; community engagement and education. When the recycling market was at its peak, the

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