Recycling rates are rising in Michigan resulting in environmental and economic benefits according to the EGLE

Recycling rates are rising in Michigan resulting in environmental and economic benefits according to the EGLE

Photo provided by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

Michigan officials promote 'America Recycles Day' Nov. 15

By: Brendan Losinski | Metro | Published November 14, 2023


METRO DETROIT — To capitalize on Michigan’s record-setting recycling momentum, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer encouraged state residents to join in recognizing America Recycles Day on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

The initiative is designed to promote the benefits recycling can offer for both the state’s natural environment and its economy. It was put forward in coordination with the “Know It Before You Throw It” statewide recycling education campaign spearheaded by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

“Recycling can save you money and help keep Michigan beautiful,” Whitmer said in a press release. “On America Recycles Day, I urge every Michigander to find ways to recycle. Together, we can protect our natural resources, ensure businesses have an ample supply of raw material, and improve quality of life for Michiganders.”

An example of the smarter recycling habits encouraged by the “Know It Before You Throw It” initiative encourages people to rinse out plastic, glass, and metal containers before placing them in recycling bins. Otherwise, contaminants could ruin a whole load of recyclable materials.

America Recycles Day, a Keep America Beautiful national initiative, is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States. Traditionally, at least three dozen states across the country recognize the day, which is held on or around Nov. 15 each year.

The observance comes as Michigan builds on the record amount of materials households across the state recycled last year. EGLE data show that 620,494 tons of residential materials were recycled in fiscal year 2022 — exceeding the record set the year prior by more than 66,000 tons. Michiganders recycled over 339,000 tons of paper and paper products during FY 2022, more than 154,000 tons of metals, more than 71,000 tons of glass, and over 45,000 tons of plastics and plastic products.

Liz Browne, EGLE’s Materials Management Division director, said that the campaign aims to inform residents about what and how to recycle — and also why.

“The results are especially encouraging because Michigan historically had the lowest recycling rate in the Great Lakes region — a trend that is reversing,” Browne said in a press release. “Through our ‘Know It Before You Throw It’ public education campaign that was launched four years ago, EGLE has led the charge to improve both the quality and quantity of materials that Michiganders recycle,”

Michigan’s recycling rate has risen from 14.25% before 2019 to 19.3% last year and now more than 21%, based on EGLE’s 2023 analysis. EGLE data also shows more Michiganders than ever — 75% of the state’s population — have convenient access to recycling services. That development could advance the goal established by Gov. Whitmer and the state Legislature of boosting Michigan’s recycling rate to 30% by 2029 and ultimately reaching 45%, which would exceed the national average of 32%.

The organization also notes how reusing recycled aluminum requires significantly less energy than creating similar material from scratch, helping lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve manufacturers’ cost efficiency. A steady flow of recycled paper can also help keep production lines running at companies that make toilet paper, for example.

Browne said America Recycles Day is an opportunity to spread the word about Michigan’s successful recycling programs, the growth of markets for recycled materials, and the importance of working to expand recycling opportunities to more businesses and communities.  

“Ensuring that all Michigan residents and businesses have access to recycling opportunities, educating residents on how and why to recycle, and fostering recycling market development will help create a circular economy that transforms currently wasted materials into valuable resources,” she wrote.