The Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority’s new single-stream recycling equipment can get mucked up if certain unapproved items get tangled in the machines.

The Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority’s new single-stream recycling equipment can get mucked up if certain unapproved items get tangled in the machines.

Photo provided by Colette Farris, of SOCRRA

SOCRRA introduces tool to teach users what is recyclable

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published September 10, 2018


OAKLAND COUNTY — Since many of us were in grade school, recycling has been pounded into our brains as one of the most important steps we can take to preserve our environment.

But for those in the waste management industry, the word elicits something more along the lines of a pounding headache.

That’s because, according to many experts, Americans are so excited to recycle their waste that they’re throwing pretty much anything they can think of in the bin — and some of those items can contaminate entire loads, sending otherwise recyclable stuff straight to the landfill.

What a waste. Pun intended.

The Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority opened its newly upgraded, multimillion-dollar recycling drop-off facility last year and doled out thousands of bigger and better recycling carts to residents in participating communities. But now the new system is getting mucked up with things like metal coat hangers and Styrofoam packing peanuts.

“It depends on what the item is,” explained Colette Farris, the organization development manager for SOCRRA. “Styrofoam is a unique item because it’s bulky and can be contaminated easily, so we just don’t do that in the curbside pickup. And things like wire coat hangers and other tangle items, like wires and cords, can get tangled in the equipment and damage it.”

Some folks are more conscious of the need to scrupulously sort what goes into the curbside bin and what can’t, and SOCRRA fields tons of phone calls each day on that topic, Farris said.

To make things easier, and to hopefully bring down the volume of contaminated recyclables wasted, SOCRRA has included a new tool called the Waste Wizard on its website, along with a Waste Wizard app available for download on Android and Apple devices.

Just search an item, and the Waste Wizard will tell you whether that item can be disposed of in the curbside recycling bin, brought directly to the SOCRRA Recycling Drop-off Center or go straight to the trash.

“The Drop-off Center not only takes the stuff that you can put into the cart, but also things like scrap metal and tangle items. We have ways to recycle them. They just can’t go into the curbside carts,” Farris said.

“Our residents are avid recyclers and want to ensure they are placing materials to the curb the right way,” Jeff McKeen, the general manager of SOCRRA, said in a press release. “With the Waste Wizard tool, residents are no longer limited to business hours and can inquire 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get the answer they are looking for quickly and easily.”

To boot, the Waste Wizard will provide SOCRRA with information about what kinds of materials residents tend to ask about most, which can help the organization better share its education and outreach efforts in the future.

By the way, things like batteries, Styrofoam — but not packing peanuts — plastic bags and scrap metal can be recycled when they’re brought to the Recycling Drop-off Center, but not when they’re included in the curbside bins. They could spoil the whole lot when they’re not turned in separately.

The Recycling Drop-off Center is located at 995 Coolidge Highway, between 14 Mile and Maple roads, in Troy. It is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. Shredder hours are the same.

For more information or to try the Waste Wizard, visit The Waste Wizard app is available via your operating system’s app store.