Superintendent Retiring After 38 Years

Posted on October 30th, 2018

Don Mapes is a man who likes to stay busy. Over his 38-year career at the Emmet County Department of Public Works, this has not been a problem—especially the 28 years he has been their Superintendent. Today is a case in point, before an 8:30 a.m. meeting to be interviewed for this article, he had already reshuffled employees to cover for a sick truck driver, travelled to Gaylord to pick up a truck from a repair garage, stopped at Burt Lake State Park on the way back to pick up a recycling drop-site bin, made a second run to Burt Lake State Park to finish picking up their bins for the season, resolved some payroll questions, and responded to the morning’s emails and phone calls.

Mapes started with the Department of Public Works (DPW) in July of 1980 as a Transfer Station Attendant and Driver. The County’s Pleasantview Road Drop-off Center, where the Solid Waste Transfer Station is located, is now a sprawling complex which receives, processes, and markets materials for recycling, as well as accepting garbage for transfer to a landfill south of Onaway. In 1980 it was a newly opened facility with just the Solid Waste Transfer Station.

Bad Bags Go Good

Posted on June 25th, 2018

Two of our staff, Andi Shepherd and Kate Melby, along with Alison Adams of the Charlevoix County Conservation District, participated in Real People Media’s Video Boot Camp. We made a little video about recycling plastic bags. Are you doing it right? Check it out! (And don’t feel bad if you were a little off; even the most avid recyclers are surprised by some of the details.)

The Grain Train Wins ECR’s 2018 Recycler of the Year Award

Posted on April 30th, 2018

From our April 30, 2018 media release on the Grain Train’s win.

Emmet Recyclers Honor Grain Train


Over 80% of Emmet County households recycle through the county’s system and recycling staff report constantly hearing from enthusiastic residents saying they, “recycle everything!” But even in a community of avid recyclers, the Grain Train Natural Foods Markets stand out for their deep recycling ethic.  Saturday, April 28, the markets—which are cooperatively owned by roughly 2,800 area individuals and families—were honored with Emmet County Recycling’s 2018 Recycler of the Year Award.


The Grain Train’s Petoskey market’s recycling efforts are evident from the moment customers walk in the door:  stacks of blue crates in the foyer are ready to receive reusable old-fashioned glass milk bottles from Shetler’s Dairy in Kalkaska. Just inside the store proper, reusable fabric produce bags made from recycled pop bottles are for sale above the fresh broccoli and beets. (Though even the produce bags off the rolls are made from recycled material.) Toilet paper and paper towel options are 100% recycled content and up to 90% post-consumer recycled.


At the self-serve food bar, waste reduction is encouraged by racks of plates, bowls, and flatware. For those who

VIDEO: Is it recyclable? When in doubt…

Posted on April 5th, 2018

When in doubt locally…

…right here on EmmetRecycling.org is the place to be!  Use the yellow SEARCH box in the upper right-hand corner.

ECR Leader Presents at National Recycling Conference

Posted on September 7th, 2017

Elisa Seltzer (third from left), Director of Emmet County Recycling (DPW), participates in a plenary panel at the Resource Recycling Conference.

The Resource Recycling Conference is THE recycling conference of the year.  The 2017 Conference was held in Minneapolis MN, August 27-30 and not only were Emmet County Recycling staff there, but our Director, Elisa Seltzer was on a panel that presented to the entire conference audience.

Based on the strength of our policy foundation, our comprehensive programs, and the quantities of material recovered (thanks to our fantastic customers!) Elisa was invited to speak as part of the Wednesday Plenary Session. The topic was “Hacking Recycling – Tools and Tricks for Your Program.” After briefly describing our county and region and giving an overview of our recycling systems, she emphasized some of the innovative policy, funding, and outreach tools that have been central to our success.

Click the link below to view the slide show.

RRC Hacking Recycling Tools & Tips 2017

Emmet Recyclers Honored by National Recycling Organization

Posted on August 29th, 2017

Emmet County Recycling (ECR) was recognized by the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) in the “Outstanding Community/Government Program” category on Monday night, August 28, 2017.  The NRC awards were presented at the Resource Recycling Conference in Minneapolis, MN.  Representing ECR at the Conference were (center above) Outreach Specialist Lindsey Walker and Director Elisa Seltzer.  They were joined in celebrating the accomplishment by (left) Michigan Recycling Coalition Director Kerrin O’Brien and (right) NRC Board President Bob Gedert.  The Michigan Recycling Coalition—with which Emmet County works closely–was also recognized by the NRC as the Outstanding Recycling Organization.

Economy Focus of Legislators’ Tour of Recycling Center

Posted on August 28th, 2017

With Governor Snyder and the MDEQ expected to propose legislation to strengthen recycling in Michigan this fall, State Senator Wayne Schmidt and Lee Chatfield, Speaker Pro Tempore of the Michigan House of Representatives toured the Emmet County Pleasantview Road Drop-off Center on Tuesday August 22. The tour focused on the economic and jobs benefits improved recycling could yield for the state.


The Emmet County recycling and waste disposal facility is looked to as a model both for its performance and for its funding mechanism.  While Michigan as a whole recycles just 15 percent of its waste—compared to an average of 30% in the Great Lakes States—Emmet County recycled upwards of 40%.


97% of the material recycled through Emmet County supplies Michigan businesses.  In 2015, Emmet County Recycling produced roughly 15,000 tons of recycled materials and employed over 20 full time equivalent (FTE) people.  Landfilling the same material would have employed an estimated 2 FTE.  At the same time sale of the materials brought in $626,900 to help fund the recycling program and saved residents and businesses an estimated $1,740,000 in disposal costs.


Emmet County Recycling also derives funding from County Waste Transfer Station revenues, a model under

Rural Michigan county gets some help rolling out carts

Posted on December 27th, 2016

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

December 1, 2015

Emmet County, Mich. appears well on its way to providing carts to residents after receiving a grant from the state and an offer from The Recycling Partnership.

Emmet County Recycling (ECR), which services 7,600 curbside households in rural northern Michigan, has announced it has been awarded an $82,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and, as long as it can do some fundraising of its own, another $82,000 grant from industry nonprofit group The Recycling Partnership.

ECR is the county-run recycling division of the Emmet Department of Public Works. It has been active since 1990.

With a goal of providing all of its customers with carts by the end of 2016, ECR will use the MDEQ award to purchase 1,400 carts. In order to receive The Recycling Partnership grant, ECR has been tasked with coming up with enough funds to provide carts to the remainder of the county as well as the purchase of a new truck.

In a press release this week, county officials stated they were “now busy reaching out to additional sources of funding,” with its parent department already proposing $50,000 in budgetary spending for the project in

Recycling carts receive warm welcome two months after roll out

Posted on December 27th, 2016

Only 2 percent turn carts away, according to recycling program

Aug 17, 2016

Courtesy photo Barbara Martin (right) and sons Steven (left) and Andrew Wallace of Little Traverse Township streamlined their home recycling system with their new cart.

Emmet County Recyclings new household paper recycling carts have been welcomed with open arms by residents of the five curbside recycling service communities. Over 7,000 of the black carts with bright green lids were distributed in late June to single family homes in Bear Creek, Little Traverse and Resort townships, Petoskey and Harbor Springs.

I thought I saw a tear Barbara Martin of Little Traverse Township said, describing her sons reaction upon delivery of their cart. The family had been hauling their recyclables to a nearby drop site, the job assigned to her sons, Steven and Andrew Wallace. We had five bins lined up in the basement, explained Martin. She used to gather recyclables in the kitchen, then Steven had the job of sorting the materials into the basement totes. I have to admit, we’d let them get a bit more than full before hauling, Martin said. Now the cart and curbside mixed containers totes sit outside the kitchen door and are

Emmet County Department of Public Works
200 Division Street, G-76, Petoskey, MI 49770 • 231-348-0640

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