Recycling Spikes in Northville Township
A new disposal and recycling plan has spurred an increase in recycling among residents concerned about going green.
Since new recycling bins – which equal the size of bins used for trash – were introduced in the last week of February, recycling has increased from 91 tons per month to 147 tons in the month of March, the first full month of the program.
“That’s an astounding increase, said Randy Duncan, the co-owner of Duncan Disposal, which holds the waste contract in Northville Township. “That’s 147 tons of materials that were diverted from the landfill and it’s outstanding. We usually see an increase after people go to the larger container. But not by this much.”
Don Weaver, the director of public works for the township, said increasing recycling was a goal for the city when it implemented the new program.
“We wanted to make it more convenient for people to recycle,” he said. “I knew that we’d see some increases in the level of participation but I didn’t think it would be this much.”
A larger cart means more recycling
The new bins that Northville residents use are 95 gallons at single-family homes and businesses and 65 gallons at condominiums.
The former recycling containers were only 18 gallons, which meant if a resident filled it, the rest of the materials would likely go into the garbage, said Weaver.
“It’s more convenient for residents because they can just toss the materials in there. They don’t have to bind up newspapers and other items,” he said. “People are encouraged to use the container more often.”
Convenience has long been an issue for recycling advocates since curbside programs began in earnest in the 1990s, mostly because people often felt as though they were putting too much work into it, said Kerrin O’Brien, the executive director of the Lansing-based Michigan Recycling Coalition.
“Convenience is a big part of this for people,” she said. “It used to be that you’d have to separate white paper from newspapers, plastics, and metals. With the move to single screen recycling, people can place everything in a bin."
O'Brien added, “There’s always going to be a certain population that is dedicated to recycling, but making it easier and having a larger bin will increase those numbers."
Municipal governments are in a good position to change the climate for recycling, she said.
“Because they hold contracts, by giving people options, they can do something more for the environment instead of paying to move things to a landfill,” she added.
Weaver said he hopes that the new program maintains its momentum in the future.
“I think these numbers are a really good start for us,” he said.