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November 5, 2013

Paper or plastic — recycling puts money in city coffers

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

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Scouts and their parents from Burton Elementary School in the Berkley School District see how recycled materials are sorted.
 

Ever wonder what happens to the milk jugs, tissue boxes and Troy Times newspapers you leave in the recycling bin for curbside pickup?

To commemorate America Recycles 2013, an initiative that promotes the benefits of recycling and buying products made with recycled content, the Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority will offer free tours of the material recovery facility at scheduled times Nov. 12, 14 and 16 in an effort to educate and encourage increased participation in recycling and waste-reduction programs.

The communities of Berkley, Beverly Hills, Birmingham, Clawson, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Lathrup Village, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak and Troy make up SOCRRA, a municipal corporation that oversees trash and recycling collection.

Karen Bever, recycling educator for SOCRRA, explained that, normally, those who wish to tour the facility must schedule tours in advance, and they must include at least 10 people.

“We’re hoping people learn that recyclables just haven’t gone away after they’re placed at the curbside and see what happens when it comes to us,” she said.

During the tour, participants can see how the materials are sorted and how plastic containers are processed into flakes.

She explained that the city of Troy, as a member of SOCRRA, gets rebated $35 per ton of recyclables, while it pays $27.50 per ton to have garbage taken to a landfill.

She noted that in a 2007 study, the last time SOCRRA did such a study, SOCRRA communities, on average, threw 30 percent of recyclables into the trash. Troy weighed in at 29.3 percent in that study.

“We need higher recycling rates,” said Troy resident Pam Brady, master recycler and recycling committee volunteer at SOCRRA.

She said that according to SOCRRA statistics, each Troy resident, on average, threw out 665 pounds of trash last year and recycled 117 pounds.

However, recycling was up among Troy residents.

Emily Frontera of the Troy Department of Public Works said that recycling in Troy was up 5.5 percent from 2011-12 to 2012-13 while the amount of trash collected was down 1.7 percent from the same period.

“We have a unique way to help the city save money,” Brady said. “Recycling gives money back.”

Bever said that recycling really starts at the store with purchases and proceeds with recycling the materials, which are converted to other products that end up back in the store.

Next month, Brady plans to have a display at the Troy library to show how much of the packaging for holiday and gifts in general may be recycled. She added that wrapping paper can be recycled, as long as it can be torn easily.

“That’s our challenge,” Brady said.  “Lots of pounds in the trash could have been recycled.”

The times for the America Recycles 2013 tours at SOCRRA are 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Nov. 12; 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Nov. 14; and 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon Nov. 16 at SOCRRA, 995 Coolidge in Troy. Call Bever at (248) 288-5150 for information or to let her know if a large number of people plan to take the America Recycles 2013 tour.

For information on SOCRRA recycling guidelines, visit www. socrra.org.