City Of Ann Arbor Looking To Make Serious Adjustments To Its Recycling Program

Dec 28, 2016

Recycling Bin
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

It's been an adventurous year in Ann Arbor when it comes to recycling.  Perhaps it's better characterized as a year of misadventures, as the city continues efforts to revamp the recycling program.


Ann Arbor and its residents have always felt somewhat ahead of the national curve when it comes to recycling, certainly in the state of Michigan.  But, some unexpected controversy arose this year, and the issues have yet to be fully addressed.

Amid a long list of safety concerns, the city fired ReCommunity in July.  That's the North Carolina-based firm that had been running the Materials Recovery Facility on Platt Road.

Cresson Slotten is the City of Ann Arbor's Systems Planning Unit Manager for the recycling program.  He says many of the issues that led to the firing still exist today.

"We are still in the process of evaluating the equipment and the facility for identifying the repairs and things that need to be done to get things back into full, safe operation of the equipment and the facility."

Moving forward, Slotten says city staffs will continue reviewing the bids from three operators and make a recommendation for a longer-term contract in January.  Those companies are Waste Management, Inc., Recycle Ann Arbor, and Emterra Environmental USA.

Ann Arbor's new city manager, Howard Lazarus, made a statement contending it may not make financial sense for the city to continue using a single-stream process.  Slotten says, for now, things will remain the same.

"We're sticking with the single-stream process, the residential carts--those are working very well.  The residents are sticking to their methods--the ways they are recycling--which is doing a very good job of putting in the material, that, in the end, does get recycled."

When it comes to Ann Arbor recycling operations, it may be fair to characterize 2016 as a year of some upheaval.  It would appear 2017 will be a year of improvement.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu