Ann Arbor City Council considers $3.5 million upgrade to recycling system
Ann Arbor residents might not have to sort their recyclables in the future - and they might even get rewarded for recycling - if the City Council ultimately passes a proposal reviewed Monday evening.
In a special work session, council members were presented with a $3.5 million plan that would convert Ann Arbor’s Materials Recovery Facility into what’s referred to as a single-stream operation.
Reduced costs to the city and increased revenue from being able to pick up more materials are among the benefits of upgrading the current recycling system, said Ann Arbor recycling coordinator Tom McMurtrie, who helped present the proposal.
The city could expect to see reduced disposal fees for garbage, efficient pickup of recycled materials and higher recycling participation from a single-stream operation, he said.
The projected increase in participation also is part of a city proposal that would partner its recycling efforts with a company called RecycleBank. With technology embedded in curbside carts, the amount of materials being recycled along a single route could be tallied and split into points for individual households. The points could later be used to shop at local and national businesses.
The proposed upgrade would likely allow the city to take in more recycled materials from nearby municipalities. Saline and Westland are two local municipalities using single stream operations and have reported positive results.
The proposal will likely be brought up at the council’s Nov. 5 meeting. It would require the council to renegotiate its contract with Recycle Ann Arbor and FCR Recycling, the company that currently partners with the city to process and market its recycled materials.
If passed, the measure would call for equipment upgrades to be finished by July 2010. An eight-week downtime, likely in May and June, would occur in recycling services to make the conversion, McMurtrie said.
During the work session, council members asked questions about how the project would work, particularly the potential cost-savings, and how RecycleBank points would be tallied and divvied up.
Traditionally, tipping fees for hauling trash have been low in Michigan, but are expected to rise as landfill space becomes scarce in coming years, said Mayor John Hieftje. Finding ways to reduce overall waste disposal fees by diverting more trash would be a benefit, he said.
The proposed upgrade would allow more, but not all, containers to be recycled. For example, plastic clamshell-style takeout containers could be recycled. But the styrofoam ones still could not.
The new system likely wouldn't allow for recycling household batteries, motor oil and filters. Those will still be picked up for recycling at drop off points, officials said.