Michigan leaders support recycling programs, but struggle to implement them

Michigan community leaders large and small overwhelmingly agree that recycling remains important, but they face challenges in implementing recycling programs for their residents.

A recent public policy survey at the University of Michigan showed widespread support among community leaders for providing recycling services for both environmental and economic benefits, yet respondents said they often had difficulties launching these programs. The hardships are often related to costs, inappropriate recycling practices, unknown end markets for recycled materials, according to survey.

Debra Horner, director of the Michigan Public Policy Survey project, spoke this week at the Michigan Recycling Alliance’s annual conference in East Lansing, detailing the findings of the opinion study.

“We asked if recycling programs can help reduce litter and pollution at the local level. Can they protect clean water across Michigan? Can they help global climate change? Then we also asked if government recycling efforts And new regionalism can boost local economic development,” Horner said.

The researcher 77 percent of leaders agreed that recycling can solve local garbage problems and 87 percent agreed that it can protect clean water. More than half – 56 per cent – said recycling could help tackle the global climate crisis by reducing greenhouse gases.

Horner said that repeated UM poll results have shown over the years that the numbers of community leaders who support recycling efforts have continued to grow, especially in recent years.

The conference was attended by Eric Petrovkis, Director of Environmental Compliance and Sustainability at Meijer Inc. He said many of the university’s surveys reflect what the large retailer found in its customer surveys between 2017 and early 2021.

“This latest assessment we had on 5,300 clients and the percentage of clients for whom sustainability is important or very important has gone from about two-thirds to more than three-quarters — about 14 points in the past three years,” Petrovkis said.

Additionally, Horner said 76 percent of community leaders surveyed across Michigan agreed that their residents want to provide recycling programs, and 73 percent believe additional funding is needed to help improve or expand their local efforts.

Shawn Hammond, from Michigan Township AssociationEven the early stages of administrative preparation for recycling programs can be challenging for some smaller municipalities, both financially and logistically, he said. Talk in a panel about the results of the survey.

“How do we get access to more recycling services available? Because it is clearly subsidized.” “There is a gap in how to get there.”

Horner said her experience conducting this survey over the years tells her that local government officials, particularly in smaller jurisdictions, are “overburdened” and do not have the ability to write and submit grant applications for state recycling grants. She noted that it may take a team effort for some places to succeed.

“Finding ways to bring — to the concierge — to hold their hand and say, ‘Here are the steps you have to take,’ and be very clear about that. I think that would really help move the needle in a lot of these places,” she said.

Promoting recycling in Michigan is part of the state’s new climate action plan, which is intended to be a blueprint for Carbon neutral economy by 2050. recently adopted MI Health Climate Plan He calls for the country to increase the recycling rate to at least 45 percent and cut food waste in half by 2030.

Michigan is currently lagging behind the rest of the United States in its country 19 percent recycling rate.

A multi-year, bipartisan effort under previous and current administrations to renew Michigan’s solid waste laws resulted in a legislative package designed to promote recycling, composting, and material reuse. The bills passed through state house in the spring of 2021, but since then Stalled in the Senate Without any discussion or hearings by the committee.

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