You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Oct 6, 2009 : 5:55 a.m.

What are the Top 6 materials being recycled in Ann Arbor?

By Tina Reed

Ann Arbor residents may not know it, but the city is a top exporter of quality recycled aluminum.

That’s according to Ann Arbor’s Materials Recovery Facility, which was honored as a top recyclable material processing center by FCR Recycling, the company's solid waste contractor. FCR Recycling processes and sells Ann Arbor’s recycled materials once they've been picked up from curbs outside city homes and businesses.

The company awarded Ann Arbor for its quality recycled aluminum, which goes straight to an Anheuser-Busch plant in St. Louis, Missouri to create new beer cans.

RECYCLE 2-3 AW.jpg

Rafael Lopez drives a forklift as he moves compacted paper products in the Materials Recovery Facility in Ann Arbor.

File photo

Want to find out where some of those recyclables you’ve sorted go? 

Take a look at the some of the top recycled materials annually in Ann Arbor by weight.

1. Newspapers and magazines: 13,672 tons per year are used to create newspapers, box board, notebooks, ceiling tiles and insulation at Graphic Packaging in Kalamazoo.

2. Corrugated cardboard: 9,198 tons per year are used to create corrugated cardboard and box board at PCA in Filer City, Mich.

3. Mixed glass: 4,808 tons per year are used for roadbed material at local landfills.

4. Office paper: 1,621 tons per year are recycled into copy paper, newspaper and boxboard at American Fiber in Atlanta, Ga.

5. Pop bottles (or #1 plastic): 1,180 tons per year are turned into fabric, carpet and fleece at Mohawk Ind. in Summerville, Ga.

6. Steel cans: 831 tons per year go to creating new steel cans and car parts.

Related: Ann Arbor City Council to consider single-stream recycling system

Tina Reed covers health and the environment for You can reach her at, call her at 734-623-2535 or find her on Twitter @TreedinAA.



Tue, Oct 6, 2009 : 4:44 p.m.

My understanding is that some plastics are not cost effective to recycle. In other words, it would cost more to recycle them into a "new container" than it would cost to make from raw materials.

John Hritz

Tue, Oct 6, 2009 : 11:27 a.m.

I agree with Ann Arbor accepting #5 plastic. Whole Foods takes #5. Not sure why they can't.


Tue, Oct 6, 2009 : 10:19 a.m.

Whole Foods accepts #5 plastics for recycling. The Cranbrook Village store has a bin near the customer service desk and trash/recycling area.

Seasoned Cit

Tue, Oct 6, 2009 : 9:19 a.m.

Let me get this straight. We're recycling mixed glass so they can use it instead of gravel on the roads at the dumps? Doesn't sound real green to me!


Tue, Oct 6, 2009 : 8:38 a.m.

I am so proud of Ann Arbor for their recycling efforts. However, it would be really nice to see an effort to recycle the plastic #5----the containers that just about everything you purchase at a grocery store comes in. Yogurt,cool whip, cream cheese, sour cream, etc. The only place that I have heard of that recycles these containers locally is Whole foods. I read that in a national magazine a few weeks ago. I have not confirmed it locally yet. We recycle #5's by washing and reusing them, but after a while....there are so many of them--it kills me to put them in the trash. I would like to understand why some plastics are recycled and others aren't.


Tue, Oct 6, 2009 : 8:33 a.m.

I am amazed that little town Saline accepts so many more recycle items at curbside than AA. They take all #2 and #3 containers and bags and #7 containers. Can you please explain what they have that we don't that allows for this superior system?


Tue, Oct 6, 2009 : 7:15 a.m.

Thanks for this breakdown. This is exactly the kind of information that will continue to inspire all of us to throw that paper or plastic in the recycle bin instead of the trash. When we can see where our waste goes to be reused, we will be less likely to throw it in the trash can. Thanks for the story!


Tue, Oct 6, 2009 : 7:11 a.m.

If AA wants to impress me - they need to recycle #2 & #3 plastics.