Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Report Shows State Record in Recycling

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) reports the state more than doubled its recycling rate in three years. The report was announced Monday, the start of Earth Week, with Friday being Earth Day.

Before 2019, Michigan was estimated to have the lowest recycling rate in the Great Lakes region at 14.25%. The recycling rate refers to the rate which recyclable materials are recycled from waste. EGLE estimates the state now has a 35.4% recycling rate.

“We really need to increase that rate and why there’s been such a focus on it,” says EGLE Director Liesl Clark. “The increase equates to Michigan capturing over half a million more tons of cardboard boxes, milk cartons, plastic bottles, organic material and other recyclables, equaling equating to over 110 lbs. per person each year. This is great news because Michigan businesses are putting the recycling materials back into local economies. ”

Clark says increasing access to recycling services has played a part in the recycling rate increase.

Clark says she connects with those Michiganders in rural communities needing access to recycling services. More than 75 percent of the state’s households now have access to either curbside recycling bins or drop-off sites in their communities.

Michigan is also recycling 500,000 more tons of recyclable materials a year with the reported increase, according to EGLE.

“We know that recycling is one of the most important things you can do every day to make a positive difference for our environment and the climate,” says EGLE Materials Management Division Director Liz Browne. “But what many Michiganders often don’t realize is that recycling has become an essential tool in supporting our state local businesses, both big and small and major employers in the manufacturing sector.

Browne says by turning waste into new products made in Michigan, it helps save resources, protect the climate and contribute to the prosperity of Michigan-based companies.

“The grants we’re announcing today marked the largest employer in state history to promote recycling activities that divert materials from Michigan landfills, boost local economies, and also support Governor Whitmer’s climate change priorities through reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” says Browne. “Michigan is uniquely exciting because this level of commitment and partnership to comprehensively promote recycling between Michigan’s private sector and state government has never happened in our state’s history. And we believe that it marks the greatest accomplishment in recycling since our state achieved its first in the nation status by introducing the bottle deposit law back in 1976.”

Clark says, since 2019, more than $460 million has been invested into technology for recycling and maintaining recycling infrastructure. It’s all part of the goal to help Michigan fight climate change and reach a 45% recycling rate by 2030.

There’s still a long way to go to reach the national average, which is about 32 percent.

This Thursday, the state will release the MI Healthy Climate Plan, 30-year plan to make Michigan a carbon neutral state by 2050. A rough draft of the plan was released earlier this year.

EGLE also took the opportunity, Monday, to announce $7 million in grants to help with recycling infrastructure across the state.

One project receiving funding, in 9&10’s coverage area, includes a $1 million EGLE grant through Renew Michigan to support construction of a more than $5 million new recycling center near the Alpena County Regional Airport.

Categories: Earth Day