November 13, 2013 - By Meg Peters
Review Staff Writer
Michigan residents sent about 44.3 million cubic yards of solid waste into Michigan landfills in one year from October 2011 to the end of September 2012, according to the most recent report generated by the Michigan Department of Environmental Equality.
Eagle Valley, the Orion Township landfill owned by Waste Management, disposed a total of 760,409 cubic yards of waste, or 1.7 percent of the state's waste, ranking it 13th of the 69 landfills in Michigan.
Local recycling efforts, such as the Recycling Sisters' and the America Recycles Day Event, are trying to curb Orion Township's potential recyclable items from ending up at the landfill.
America Recycles Day is nationally recognized on November 15, with local recycling organizations stepping up to bring awareness to a valuable resource that is not being fully utilized.
This Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Recycling Sisters will be accepting anything made of metals, electronics, anything with a plug, awkward-kinds-of-items that are not normally accepted curbside. Bring them to the Unity Church parking lot located at 3070 Baldwin Rd., just north of Waldon.
You can bring washers, patio furniture, computers, auto parts, ladders, cell phones, cabinets, TVs, lawn equipment, refrigerators, steel, copper, aluminum, rechargeable batteries, exercise equipment, grills, pipes, door knobs, everything sitting in the attic, for proper disposal.
Started by Patty Clair from Ortonville, Recycling Sisters is an organization that takes these items free of charge, breaks them down, and recycles them properly.
"The thing about recycling is, if it's convenient, the numbers go up. If it's free, the numbers go up. So that's why I started this," Clair said.
Patty Clair can be reached at 248-240-4899 for additional questions.
Clair has researched national and statewide recycling efforts for years, and said that Michigan is one of the few states lacking adequate recycling tracking data.
"Other states, they know their numbers. They'll tell you how much for that state can be diverted, and how much money it is worth in millions. They keep track of that. That's where we need to go," Clair said.
According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, nearly $8.5 billion in total gross economic activity was associated with recycling manufacturers in 2011, or 37,000 recycling jobs. In 2010, Minnesota recycling programs collected about 2.5 million tons of materials worth $690 million.
A report conducted in 2010 by the Illinois Recycling Economic Information Study accounted recycling efforts in Illinois contributed to $30.3 billion in gross receipts.
A similar study by the Michigan Recycling Coalition conducted in 2011 called "A Way Forward," reported Michigan produced $11.6 billion in gross receipts for recycling efforts.
The 2009 report conducted by the Public Sector Consultants Inc. (PSC), a firm that has generated environmental reports for more than 30 years, calculated recycling rates for the Great Lakes Region.
Michigan's rate at 20 percent was the lowest of the six states, with Minnesota the highest at 43 percent. Even though Illinois had the highest population in 2009 at 12.9 million, with Michigan at about 10 million people, Illinois recycling rate outperformed Michigan's at 37 percent to 20 percent.
The PSC study also concluded that if Michigan increased its current 20 percent rate of recycling to 30 percent, about 6,800 to 13,000 jobs would be created, and approximately $155 million to $300 million in income.
If Michigan captured 50 percent of recyclable waste by 2015, as part of the official State of Michigan Solid Waste Policy enacted in 2007, the immediate raw material value of those resources would be roughly $435 million.
Not only is recycling proven to stimulate the economy, lower greenhouse gas emissions, generate profit, protect the environment, and increase energy savings, it is proven to conserve natural resources, according to the PSC 2009 study.
Numerous reports indicate that using recycled materials in manufacturing is cheaper than virgin materials. For example, using fresh aluminum costs twice as much as using recycled aluminum because it requires about 90 to 95 percent more energy to extract aluminum from its raw form.
Manufacturing recycled white office paper causes 74 percent less air pollutants and 35 percent less water pollutants compared to using raw wood pulp, because recycled materials have already been processed.
According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, each tree left standing can filter 60 pounds of pollutants and carbon dioxide from the air each year.
Reusing recycled materials saves our natural resources.
Who, what, where in Orion Township
What many people might not realize, is curbside recycling, for most if not all haulers, for Orion Township is included in the trash-pick up fee for single-family residential customers.
Advanced Disposal, Odd Job, Republic Services, and Waste Management recycling fees are all included in monthly or quarterly costs. Both Christensen Disposal and Smith's Disposal Service did not return messages for comment.
Curbside recycling is normally placed in a recycling bin provided by the company.
There are some curbside guidelines for home pickup. Acceptable for paper: cardboard and paper bags, junk mail, paperboard (no wax coated paperboard), office paper, newspapers (remove bags, strings, rubber bands), magazines and catalogues, and phone books.
Clear glass is the only kind of glass that is accepted.
For metals: steel and tin cans and empty aluminum cans, along with metal kitchen cookware (pots, pans, utensils) are all accepted.
Plastics: jugs and bottles (#1 and #2), household plastics (#3, #4, #5, #6, #7) and plastic grocery bags too.
If the recycling bin is full, a plastic bag can be used for additional items.
Compost, food containers, foam, batteries, wood, electric cords, and other such items are not accepted.
If curbside recycling is not available for your residence, fear not.
As an Orion Township resident with a valid I.D., recycling can be dropped off at Eagle Valley Recycling Center for free.
Hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Saturday 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Call first if it is raining.
Could people in Orion Township/Lake Orion recycle more? Yes, Scott Rowe, Operations Manager for Eagle Valley, said. The easiest item that could be recycled more is cardboard.
"There's definitely so much more that could be recycled, you need to get it before it comes here," he said.
Eighth graders from Scripps Middle School and one class from Waldon Middle School take a tour of Eagle Valley every year to learn about the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling.
If you are interested in a tour, in how Eagle Valley provides methane gas for the GM power plant and DTE Energy, or have any additional questions about recycling, contact Eagle Valley at 248-391-0990.