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Hazel Park

November 14, 2012

SOCRRA promotes recycling with Bin Blitz, facility tours

Hazel Park continues efforts to improve recycling rates

By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer

Recycling in Hazel Park

Want to help the city save money rather than lose it? You can pick up a curbside recycling bin at Hazel Park City Hall, 111 E. Nine Mile; the Hazel Park Department of Public Works, 24211 Couzens; or the SOCRRA Recycling Facility, located at 995 Coolidge in Troy. Recyclables are collected on Mondays. You can also arrange to receive a bin for free if you’re a business looking to cut down on disposal costs.
The following are some items that can be recycled:

• Post-It notes
• Aluminum water bottles
• Paper bags
• Bagged household batteries
• Holiday lights
• Manila folders
• Jelly jars
• Plastic cookie trays
• Fast food paper bags and receipts
• Metal faucets
• Plastic buckets
• Empty aerosol cans
• Telephone books
• Metal hangers
• Pie tins and aluminum foil
• Old metal pots and pans
• Cardboard
• Detergent bottles
• Newspapers
• Plastic flower flats and pots
• Metal cans
• Paperback books
• Drink or juice boxes
• Any plastic container and lid
• Shredded paper (bagged)
• Any color glass bottle
• Broken staplers
• Junk mail
• Paper towels
• Toilet paper tubes
• Rusty garden tools
• Empty latex paint cans
• Cereal boxes
• Soy cartons
• Milk jugs
— Andy Kozlowski

HAZEL PARK — America Recycles Day is Nov. 15, but for  the Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority, SOCRRA, the effort doesn’t stop there.

For the month of November, SOCRRA is selling recycling bins for half off in a move to get Hazel Park and other SOCRRA communities to “go green” this fall.

The bins, normally $12 each, will be discounted to $6 as part of the annual Bin Blitz. The bins can be purchased by cash or check at the SOCRRA Recycling Facility, located at 995 Coolidge in Troy.

Hazel Park will also be offering a discount on recycling bins, available at City Hall, 111 E. Nine Mile, or the Department of Public Works, 24211 Couzens. The bins, normally $7, and the optional lids, normally $6, will both be available for $5.

The bins are the same capacity either way. Residential pickup in Hazel Park is on Mondays; separate trucks come for recyclables, garbage and compost.

In addition, SOCRRA will be offering half-hour tours of its Material Recovery Facility, free of charge, now through Nov. 17. Karen Bever, education director at SOCRRA, said attendees swing by the facility’s education center before visiting the facility proper to see how recyclables are sorted and baled.

“That way, they can actually see how much stuff we actually receive daily through our facility — what we keep, what we bale, and how often that material goes out the door so it can be processed into new materials again,” Bever said.

Tom Jones, Hazel Park’s DPW foreman, said he’s taken the tour before.

“It’s kind of a noisy place, but you see from start to finish the creation of a recycled product,” Jones said. “And you learn interesting facts, like how milk jugs are particularly valuable for companies to reuse, since they’re a clear product that is easy to transform into something else. Your plastics, your cans — they’re all baled up into a nice cube and put onto a semi-truck to be taken out and sold for recycling.”

The more that is recycled, the more SOCRRA communities get in return. To encourage practices that save on trash collection costs while earning money in recycling rebates, Hazel Park challenged Huntington Woods, also a SOCRRA community, to a contest to see who could increase their recycling rates the most this past May.

In the end, Hazel Park won the friendly competition, collecting nearly 89,300 pounds of recyclables throughout four collection dates in May 2012, a weekly average of about 22,300. This was an 11 percent increase over May 2011, when 100,100 pounds were collected throughout five dates for a weekly average of 20,020.

Huntington Woods, meanwhile, collected around 200,700 pounds of recyclables throughout five dates in May 2012, a weekly average of about 40,100 and just a 1 percent increase over their May 2011 numbers.    

“We are happy to lose,” Claire Galed, public works manager for Huntington Woods, said at the time. “It’s really exciting. Hazel Park worked really hard, and it all pays off in increasing awareness and increasing tonnage recycled. More power to them!”

Hazel Park had nowhere to go but up. When last year’s numbers were tallied up, Huntington Woods was No. 1, when it came to recycling, and Hazel Park was dead last.

This cost Hazel Park a lot of money. The city loses $26 for every ton of trash taken to the landfill and makes $36.50 for every ton of recyclables collected. This is money that could be spent on life-saving services like police or fire, or improving quality of life.

Last year, Hazel Park received a rebate of $14,430 on recyclables from SOCRRA, which was used to offset the roughly $144,000 SOCRRA was paid for the collection and processing of recyclables. Along with the avoided disposal costs of about $12,500, this meant Hazel Park’s benefit as a percentage of collection costs was a mere 18 percent.

Contrast this with Huntington Woods at the opposite end of the spectrum. Their collection cost was more than $52,600, offset by a rebate of about $26,000 and avoided disposal costs of about $22,500.

In the end, their benefit as a percentage of collection costs was 92 percent, meaning they nearly absorbed the cost of recycling with all the money they were saving, and they were saving a great deal more than if they trashed items altogether.

The more SOCRRA communities improve their recycling, the more they all benefit, since the rebate grows with the number of recyclables SOCRRA has to sell. In that sense, this good-natured contest — first between Huntington Woods and Oak Park, then Pleasant Ridge, and most recently Hazel Park — works out for everyone.

And it’s already paying off; since SOCRRA members have been doing so well with recycling, the rebates coming to the cities this year will be around $50 per ton recycled, up from $36.50, and the amount saved on trash tonnage will be $27 per ton, up from $26.

To keep a good thing going, city officials encourage all Hazel Park residents to keep two recycling bins in the household: one for plastics and one for paper products.

Bins and carts are also available to businesses at no cost — a SOCRRA rep simply swings by to evaluate the business for its recycling needs and then sets them up with the right equipment. This is useful, since Hazel Park doesn’t have commercial pickup and businesses pay for their own waste removal.

The less trash they take out and the more they recycle, the more the businesses save. Last year, Continental Bike Shop saved more than $500 in avoided-disposal costs by recycling.

Jones said that the more people know about recycling and the more they participate, the better things will be.

“Getting the awareness out there is helping our numbers,” Jones said. “We did an Earth Awareness Day earlier this year, and we’re looking forward to another one next spring. It’s a matter of making everyone aware so that, instead of throwing something away, they’ll put it in the bin, which helps us in our trash-hauling costs and makes a difference in terms of helping the city.”

For more information about the Bin Blitz or the SOCRRA facility tours, visit www.SOCRRA.org or call (248) 288-5150.

C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki contributed to this article.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski at akozlowski@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1104.