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Posted on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 5:52 a.m.

Ann Arbor's single-stream recycling starts next month; some toxic items will no longer be accepted

By Staff

Ann Arbor residents won't be able to leave household batteries, used motor oil and used oil filters among their curbside pickup starting July 1.

City officials say the change is being made as the city moves toward single-stream recycling, which starts on Monday, July 5.

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The city's single-stream recycling program begins July 5.

Single-stream recycling will allow residents and businesses to put all recyclable materials into one cart. City officials say it will make recycling easier on everyone and will expand the numbers and types of materials accepted - for example, almost all plastic bottles and tubs will be able to be recycled.

As for batteries, motor oil and filters, officials say residents have several options for recycling those toxic materials. The Drop-Off Station at 2950 East Ellsworth Road accepts all those items in unlimited quantities at no charge, once the $3 entry fee is paid.

In addition, many local auto repair and quick oil-change shops accept motor oil and filters for recycling. Rechargeable batteries can be dropped off at no charge for recycling at most stores that sell rechargeable batteries - as well as at the city’s Customer Service Center and City Hall lobby, and at Washtenaw County’s Home Toxics Collection Center, 705 Zeeb Road.

Residents who participate in single-stream recycling must place all materials inside the cart, to be emptied via the new hybrid-hydraulic recycling trucks equipped with a cart-lifting arm.

New materials that will be accepted include all plastic bottles and tubs (except #3/PVC and biodegradable plastics/PLA). Large bulky plastic items, such as laundry baskets and buckets, will also be accepted.

For 24-hour information on the city’s solid waste services, call 99-GREEN or visit the city’s website at


Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Tue, Jun 29, 2010 : 12:04 p.m.

all i have read is -conclusions- as to single stream being more efficacious than source-sorted recycles. can someone point to the economincs url where this conclusion is demonstrated? yeh, i;m serious. aside from hiding/concealing the details of our civillisation from children grwoing up (just toss it ALL in one pile and let someone elase sort it out - a BAD 'growing-up' example, imnsho.)... source-sorting (we make the trash; we sort it out -- e.g. 'your mother doesn;t live here, clean up after yoruslef.) as a weekly *living* *example* for the first 15 yrs of life teaches non-profligacy as well as raising the next generation with an awareness of an inter-dependent living arrangement with the rest of us. i am very confused about teh -terrible- exapmle of shoveling it all down-stream for someonwe else to deal with.

native girl

Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 5:17 a.m.

Ann Arborites can recycle more plastics! That is a huge benefit and what we wanted. Now when I buy my organic produce in a plastic #1 container, I can recycle it rather than throw it in the landfill, thus reducing my methane output and reducing my carbon footprint. I collect my used batteries for about 6 months before I recycle them so nothing has changed other than I need to take them to the DOS when I have a lot of materials to recycle or to the drop box at City Hall. If you don't like to bag or cart your leaves, then compost them in your back yard and use the resulting humus to grow your own food, feed your lawn or flowers. Composting and growing a garden at home is the best way to reduce green house gases. Compost makes the best food source for the microbes in the soil and it helps to keep trees, perennials and gardens vibrantly healthy. Research university studies show plants that receive healthy humus actually can defend themselves against mildews and destructive pests, harmful microbes and reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers. By using your own humus, you will not need to purchase it elsewhere, thus ensuring the soil amendment you use is healthy. If you don't have room to compost your leaves, there is a local master gardener would definitely take them off your hands. It is hard to find leaves in the middle of summer to keep my compost pile going. Check out the City of Ann Arbors new compost website at to sign up for Master Compost Class, to find compost resources, volunteer at a compost event or post other compost related interests, such as sharing leaves.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 5:41 p.m.

@Brian Point taken on the leaf bagging. There has to be a better way.

Brian Kuehn

Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 1:47 p.m.

@Maple: I agree with you on the apparent benefit of single-stream recycling. Our kids live in San Antonio and they just toss everything into the giant wheeled barrel. Assuming everything tossed in get recycled, it would seem to be easier for us, the residents, to process on our end and less material ends up in a landfill. Moving on to your comment about leaf bagging, you seem to have found it difficult to transport the recycle bins to the end of your driveway. Try bagging the leaves from a half dozen mature oak and walnut trees, never mind first raking them into a pile. If you rent, live in a condo or have a yard service, then it may not seem that hard to bag leaves. Is it the end of the world that we tree owners will have to bag several hundred pounds of leaves? No, we will certainly survive and figure out a way to get the job done. Just don't dismiss the issue by asking "Is that really so hard?"


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

Having lived both in places with the bin system and with single-stream I cannot believe how some of you are saying that there are no benefits to single-stream! The change in container alone is extremely helpful. Throwing everything in to a lidded container with wheels that is easy to put out on trash day is a God-send. When I had to put everything in an open bin and then lift and carry that bin to the curb it was a nightmare and a chore that nobody wanted to do and something that was difficult for elderly, disabled, and injured residents to handle as well. On top of that, the papers would inevitably blow away in the wind because the bins don't have lids. The particular municipalilty in which I lived told people that if they wanted little carts and lids for their bins they actually had to go to the town hall and BUY them, a joke considering the fact that the bins themselves were considered property of the waste authority! The addition of other types of plastics is also very helpful. I don't know what the Ann Arbor City restrictions were but I previously lived where only #1 and #2 plastics were accepted-- which meant that all my yogurt/cottage cheese/sour cream containers had to go in the trash. I don't understand why there is an "entrance fee" for disposal of waste that was previously picked up for free by the city. Either the old bins should be converted into hazardous waste pickup containers or the fees should be waived for residents dropping off small quantities of household hazardous waste. Regarding leaves, I have NEVER lived in a place that had a policy other than bagging for leaves. Is that really so hard?


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 11:38 a.m.

Happy about single stream. Lots of plastics will now be accepted that weren't before. Plus, now I don't have to take butter tubs and things like that out of the recycling container that my neighbors put in it incorrectly.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 9:54 a.m.

The costs associated with haz waste reflects the true costs in the manufacturing of said item. We are going to see more of these costs which are no longer "hidden" in the intial purchase price.....hopefully consumer demand for less haz products will lead to better products that are "sustainable" going forward?? What until the hybrid owners need new batteries and they will certainly have sticker shock, hopefully the $$ they save on gas is going to a battery replacement fund..LOL!!


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 9:39 a.m.

Many offices have battery buckets anyway. I drop the few we generate at home in about twice a year.

Jake C

Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 9:23 a.m.

Uhh, can you explain why you are claiming there are no benefits? "New materials that will be accepted include all plastic bottles and tubs (except #3/PVC and biodegradable plastics/PLA). Large bulky plastic items, such as laundry baskets and buckets, will also be accepted." So you can't dispose of used motor oil and batteries (how much of those do you go through each week?) And how many of these new items will you be able to recycle instead, and how much time will you save by just throwing everything into one large bin instead of having to sort your recyclables? If you really care about recycling your batteries and motor oil, just talk with your neighbors and have whoever might be driving by the Ellsworth Drop-off Station drop some stuff off once every month or two. Or like the article says, just take 'em to any oil change shop or battery store for free, and there's at least a dozen around town.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 9:15 a.m.

OK, I do take back my comment about single stream recycling having no benefit (since we get more plastics added to the list)...


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 8:27 a.m.

This single-stream recycling blows. As for the leaf pick-up change, that I do see both sides of. It was crazy how it was setup before and must have been crazy expensive. I'm willing to put my leaves in my compost bin and bags in order to have them picked up each week but the single stream recycling has NO benefit to us. I wonder if we can petition to have that halted?


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 8:26 a.m.

Like the others, I am pleased with the addition of extra plastics, etc and agree that many more things will end up in the trash. I think the recycling effort would be well served by curbside collections of things that would normally go to drop-off station once every two or three months.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 8:08 a.m.

"East Ellsworth Road accepts all those items in unlimited quantities at no charge, once the $3 entry fee is paid." This is one of the funnier lines I have read in this online thing No charge $ 3 entrance fee - good one

5c0++ H4d13y

Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 7:58 a.m.

No more leaf pick up too. You have to bag them all. Spun as a benefit to the citizens.

Brian Kuehn

Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 7:52 a.m.

I am certainly no expert in recycling, single stream or multiple stream. However, from my perspective, we have a problem locally and the new restrictions on accepting motor oil, filters and batteries just adds to it. Most of us want to do the right thing as far as recycling and disposal of hazardous items. The current system has a significant disincentive for proper disposal and further restricting what is collected only makes the situation worse. My most recent trip to the Drop-Off station serves as an example. This Spring I collected a number of items from around the home that needed special handling (a couple non-working compact fluorescents, a long broken fluorescent tube, an old non-working computer CPU, etc...). I drove over to the Drop-Off center and paid the $3.00 entry fee. Then I proceeded to sort out all the items I had collected. At the end of the trip I had paid $11.00 plus the time and expense of driving over to the Drop-Off Center. Is it possible that there are people out there who might look at the trouble of collecting, delivering and ultimately paying to recycle these items and decide to dump everything into the trash barrel? It certainly crossed my mind as I drove home. I suspect that quite a few batteries (and possibly oil/filters) are going to end up in the trash to avoid the hassle of traveling across town and paying the recycle fees. There has to be a better way to handle the recycling of all these "special" items and we should expect the City to find a better solution. Meanwhile, I am driving around town with my radioactive old smoke detectors until I have a chance to drive out to the County's drop off center. You may want to keep a safe distance from my car, it's the one that has a slight glow. I would really like to rant about the recent decision to terminate the leaf pick-up. However, that is off topic so I will let that fester a bit until I see an opportunity to spout off on that subject.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 7:50 a.m.

Lets see, the recycle company makes money on this, the city makes money on this, why did we have to sort the garbage for all of those years? We were not saving the earth but padding the city bank account.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 7:49 a.m.

So how many people do you think are going to drive several miles just to turn in flashlight and other common household batteries? What a waste of gas. Well, I suspect there will be MANY, MANY more just tossed into the trash or thrown somewhere. Too bad...and too bad such things can't even be left in some designated bin at the reuse center. Like old or leftover paint, expect more in the trash bins or just left somewhere...