Madison Heights and Royal Oak compete in ‘Recycle Off’

By: Andy Kozlowski, Sarah Wojcik | Madison - Park News | Published January 31, 2018

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MADISON HEIGHTS/ROYAL OAK — From February through the end of April, the cities of Madison Heights and Royal Oak will be competing in a “Recycle Off” to see which can produce the greatest increase in recycling rates. It’s an eco-friendly contest where the winning community receives bragging rights — and where the real winner is the Earth. 

Brian Hartwell, mayor of Madison Heights, said recycling is important for many reasons: reducing the size and dependence on landfills, generating revenue for cities and cutting the costs of hiring waste contractors, and reducing energy costs by reusing old materials to create new products.

This isn’t the first time the two communities have competed for a good cause, either.

“(Royal Oak) Mayor Mike Fournier and I have waged friendly battles over the years. Our cities challenge each other to improve quality of life and gain attention for important projects,” Hartwell said, citing last year’s “Are you faster than a cop?” health challenge as an example. 

“Mayor Fournier is proud that his community now offers single-stream recycling, something that Madison Heights has excelled at for decades,” he added. “I accepted the mayor’s challenge on behalf of our city, and now invite our residents to up their recycling game.” 

As a point of reference, Hartwell said that Madison Heights residents recycled 101.9 tons in September 2017. During the same period, Royal Oak residents recycled 428.13 tons. 

However, the population of Royal Oak is nearly double that of Madison Heights, and Royal Oak’s tonnage includes recycling from businesses and schools, while Madison Heights’ does not. 

“To level the playing field, the cities will look at percentage changes,” Hartwell said. “How much of all waste do the residents from each city divert from landfills? The city with the highest percentage increase of waste that is recycled will win the title ‘Top Recycling City.’”

Judy Davis, communications specialist for Royal Oak, said they will be using recycling rates from January 2018 as a baseline. She noted that her city started using 65-gallon containers last summer.

“Ever since we’ve gotten just the bigger containers on our own, we already increased our recycling tonnage,” Davis said. “Madison Heights doesn’t have as big of bins. In order to make it fair, the (winner will be the) city who increases their participation in recycling the most.”

Madison Heights provides curbside single-stream recycling to every household in the city using 18-gallon recycling bins. The recyclables are collected weekly on the same day that trash is collected. Residents can acquire bins from the Department of Public Services, located at 801 Ajax Drive.

“I’m hoping the good people of Madison Heights and Royal Oak get excited about this challenge and embrace it,” said Joe Vitali, director of public services for Madison Heights. “I’m excited to participate and see the positive impact on recycling numbers that will hopefully carry past the competition and throughout the entire year.”