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Recyclers Fire Up New Sort Line with Robots

Posted on October 19th, 2020

From our press release October 19, 2020

Emmet County Recycling began operating a cutting edge sorting line October 12. The line—which features three sorting robots—processes the dual-steam program’s “Containers” stream. The county’s recycle system has been widely looked to as a model and the new sort-line project attracted national attention.

The containers stream includes paper cartons and cups; metal cans, foil and trays; glass bottles and jars; and plastic bottles, jugs, jars, tubs and trays. The materials are collected curbside and from drop-off sites in Emmet, Cheboygan and Presque Isle counties. They are all delivered to Emmet County’s Pleasantview Road Drop-off Center. In the recycle processing facility there, people and machines along the sort line separate the materials to go to seven different companies in the region, which each use one type to produce new products ranging from detergent jugs to car parts. Non-recyclable items placed in the recycling bins must be removed by the sorters and are then landfilled.

The new line replaces one installed in 2009. Ten years is a long life span for a container recycling sort line and, in addition to worn out equipment, the overhaul was necessitated by many changes over the years. Like most


Postcards Aim to Reduce Junk Deposited at Drop Sites

Posted on September 18th, 2020

From our media release on the subject dated 9/18/20

Amongst all the election mail filling northern Michigan mailboxes, a more coolheaded postcard arrived last week. Its message: that, when it comes to recycling plastics, keeping it simple is the way to go. The postcard, which was sent to households in Cheboygan, Emmet, and Presque Isle counties is one part of a larger, grant-funded effort to improve the efficiency of the region’s recycling programs by cutting down on non-recyclables deposited at recycling drop-off sites.

The three counties are working on the project as a group because recyclables from all three are sorted and marketed by the Emmet County Recycling Center (ECR). Emmet County Recycling (ECR) operates a “dual-stream” system, meaning that day-to-day recyclables are collected in two groups: 1) Papers, Boxes and Bags and 2) Mixed Containers.

Almost 20% of the materials collected in the Mixed Containers bins are not recyclable. Examples of problem materials items include hangers, binders, luggage, hoses, toys, and even vinyl siding. “This means that 20% of our labor, fuel and equipment used to haul the Mixed Containers bins is going to waste. And 20% of our labor sorting these recyclables is just removing waste. It’s a


COVID Demand Highlights Importance of Paper Carton Recycling

Posted on June 29th, 2020

CARTON AND PAPER RECYCLING HELPS ENVIRONMENT AND LOCAL MANUFACTURING IN MICHIGAN
Local paper mills need recyclable materials to keep up with increase in demand for products

A media release from the Carton Council, June 23, 2020

CHEBOYGAN, Michigan – When Michigan residents recycle, they aren’t only helping the
environment, they are also helping manufacturing in the state. Great Lakes Tissue, located in
Cheboygan, as well as other paper mills throughout North America are encouraging consumers to
continue recycling to provide the feedstock needed to keep up with the increase in demand for
certain products brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food and beverage cartons, made mainly of paper, are an example of a recyclable material that
provides the needed feedstock for paper mills to create new products. Paper products, like toilet
paper, tissues, and paper towels, have continued to be in short supply across the country with many
manufacturers struggling to keep up.

Once cartons are collected, paper mills like Great Lakes Tissue use a hydrapulper (a piece of
equipment that resembles a giant kitchen blender) to extract and separate the fiber from the
cartons. The pulp that comes out is used to make new paper products.

“Recycling programs are


Recyclers Resume Normal Operations

Posted on April 7th, 2020

Excerpted from our media release on the subject April 2, 2020.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Emmet County Recycling announced three good pieces of news Thursday:

  • They are resuming collection of the Mixed Containers stream, which includes bottles, cans, cartons, cups, tubs and the like. This is effective immediately.
  • Curbside recycling service will resume on Monday, April 6 with routes running on their usual days, and
  • Residents of Resort, Bear Creek and Little Traverse townships may put their rolling Papers, Boxes and Bags cart back to work, effective Monday, April 6.

Collection of Mixed Containers was temporarily suspended due to the layout of the mixed containers sort line at the county’s recycle processing facility. The line design did not allow for the workers to maintain six feet of social distance. However, when asked for suggestions for how mixed containers sortation could be accomplished safely, sort crew members designed and built floor to ceiling barricades from heavy cardboard to separate themselves. “At noon one day last week I asked them to think about it and get me ideas. By 2:00 that afternoon the sorters had not only come up with a solution, they had built the barricades!” said Emmet County Recycling


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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