Recycling stats slip slightly due to last year’s RRRASOC fire

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published April 17, 2015

 Heather Reynolds, of  Milford, helps unload antifreeze at the collection event. Another collection event will be held from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. April 18 at the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County’s Material Recovery Facility, 20875 Mapleridge Ave.

Heather Reynolds, of Milford, helps unload antifreeze at the collection event. Another collection event will be held from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. April 18 at the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County’s Material Recovery Facility, 20875 Mapleridge Ave.

Photos by Erin Sanchez

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SOUTHFIELD — Although a fire blazed through the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County last spring, recycling at the facility has only gone down by 1 percent, according to authority general manager Mike Csapo.

The fire reportedly significantly damaged the  facility at 20000 W. Eight Mile Road on May 27, halting drop-off collection, Csapo said. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

“It damaged the entire facility. Most, nearly all, the equipment was destroyed, and a lot of structural steel had to be replaced. The electrical systems had to be replaced. All in all, it was about $4.3 million just to repair the building.”

Csapo said drop-off will hopefully resume in the fall of this year.

RRRASOC is an expansive operation that provides recycling services for the cities of Southfield, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Walled Lake, Novi, South Lyon and Wixom. It has been in operation since 1989, and in 2011 underwent a $4 million expansion.

“The amount of recyclables went down because we were not open” after the fire, Csapo said. “Generally, the curbside collection is consistent and has been status quo.”

According to RRRASOC documents, 2,038 tons of materials were recycled in Southfield in 2014. The city collected 38.91 tons of hazardous waste, 4,847 tons of yard waste and 13,869 tons of landfill waste. In total, 20,795 tons of solid waste were collected.

Currently, 33.3 percent of materials taken in are recycled, which is above the recommendation of Gov. Rick Snyder’s statewide recycling goal of 30 percent.

However, the state as a whole is significantly under Snyder’s recommendation, according to Gina Adams-Levey, executive director and founder of Peace, Love and Planet, a nonprofit organization serving Wayne and Oakland counties that aims to educate and promote global eco-awareness. Currently, she said, Michigan is “way below” recycling efforts, with rates at just 14 percent.

“We’re six months into the pledge. That is why the Department of Environmental Quality is taking this so seriously, to address recycling,” Adams-Levey said.

Adams-Levey said it is embarrassing for the state to have so many natural resources and be falling behind in resource recovery.

“When we don’t recycle, that places a large demand on environmental degradation; recycling is not just about reducing landfills, but preserving nature,” she said.

Although waste management can be a dirty job, it has gotten cleaner and more fuel-efficient due to compressed natural gas, according to Tom Horton, Waste Management of Michigan spokesperson.

Since last year, Waste Management’s entire fleet began using the environmentally friendly gas in the 38 trucks that service the Detroit area, according to a published report.

“There is really the movement to compressed natural gas over diesel fuel, which has a number of benefits, chief among them reduction in … particulate matter,” Horton said.

Compressed natural gas reduces harmful emissions such as carbon monoxide by up to 80 percent, greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 percent and particulate matter emissions by up to 86 percent, according to a Waste Management document. Natural gas-powered trucks are also about 15 percent quieter.

With Earth Day approaching April 22, Csapo said it is important for residents to remember that waste is a resource.

“In the big picture, I think it’s important we think of the materials that we buy and dispose of as being resources,” Csapo said. “Everything we use at one point in this life cycle was a natural resource.”

Csapo said that disposing of recyclable items in the trash drives the use of more natural resources to replace those thrown away.

“Or we can recycle, which is not only better for the environment, and since it’s Earth Day, we want to talk about that manufacturing with recycling materials creates less energy pollution,” Csapo said.

For more information on recycling and waste collection policies, visit rrrasoc.org.

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