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Posted on Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 9 a.m.

How much did Ann Arbor recycle in 2012?

By Cole Bertsos

Ann Arbor resident's recycling efforts throughout 2012 have made not only an environmental impact, but an economic one as well, according to a study by ReCommunity.


Ann Arbor resident's recycled 12,268 tons of material in 2012.

File photo |

In honor of Earth Day, ReCommunity, Ann Arbor's recycling partner, announced Monday that during 2012 the city's residents recycled a total of 12,268 tons of materials.

Along with miscellaneous items, the more than 12 thousand tons of recycled material included 1,426,950 aluminum cans, 22,035,077 plastic bottles and 6,459,361 glass bottles. It also had 1,665,218,297 sheets of paper — the equivalent of 140,423 trees, according to the organization.

A release from ReCommunity stated that amount of materials can create up to 25 jobs within the community and prevent 35,602 metric tons of of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases from being released in the area.

The organization believes that sustainability should not be limited strictly to environmental causes, but should be all-encompassing, including economic and social benefits as well.

In addition to Ann Arbor's results, the data also provided the total for all of Michigan, which weighed in at 236,674 tons total. The closest areas behind Michigan were Arizona, with 182,518 tons recorded, and the Hudson Valley region with 65,923.



Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 1:53 a.m.

I took a tour thru there recently. Wow. What a lot of stuff. I think we out recycle our neighbors because we have less trash then they do. I really think recycling keeps the landfills from filling up too quickly. I was also told a disposal is also a great way to keep food waste to a minimum as well.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

This would have been a great opportunity to tell us whether the amount of recycling has gone up, down or stayed the same since the city withdrew from the Recyclebank program.

5c0++ H4d13y

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:48 a.m.

By my estimate that's only about $22k worth of aluminum.

Linda Peck

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 9 p.m.

I would like to know the tonnage of the regular trash bins to compare how we are doing. My recycle bin is used more than my trash bin. I notice some people don't put out a recycle bin, but only a trash bin. I am happy to know that it pays for itself. That is good enough for me if it help to save our planetary environment. Thank you for the article.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

"...included 1,426,950 aluminum cans, 22,035,077 plastic bottles and 6,459,361 glass bottles. It also had 1,665,218,297 sheets of paper..." Fascinating! Now, you are sure that was not 1,665,218,296 sheets of paper? How did you score torn pieces of paper? Quite a feat counting over a billion sheets of paper. Were they counted by hand? How long did it take? The brazen pretense at precision tells me how to assess the credibility of the claims.

Cole Bertsos

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 3:55 p.m.

"12 tons" was a typo. It was meant to say "12 thousand tons." And the link seems to be working for me — it take you to the website to view more information. I've changed the wording on the link. Sorry about that, but thanks for pointing it out!

Dan Ezekiel

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

Great article, Cole. As your middle school Earth Science teacher, I'm proud of you!

Cole Bertsos

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

Thanks, Mr. Ezekiel! What can I say? Earth Science was my inspiration.

craig stolefield

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

Last time I looked into it, recycling in Ann Arbor paid for itself plus a little profit when they figure in the landfill tipping costs saved. Wouldn't really matter to me if it did, it's one of the best things we can do for the environment. Our neighborhood loves the single stream carts! Lots better than the old bins and easier on seniors too. The article is somewhat confusing, first it's 12,268 tons of material recycled then it's only 12 tons?

lou glorie

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

I also wanted to download the missing report, because I have some questions about what the 12 tons represents. Is it total collected, total processed at the MRF or actually recycled into some useable material? It's my understanding that the collected totals are not always reflective of recycled totals.

Ed Kimball

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

@Steve Bean: No, it's not misanthropic to see the situation. It IS misanthropic to describe it as "fortunately".

Steve Bean

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:10 a.m.

Brian, it's not misanthropic to see the situation for what it is. Denial and hand wringing won't help the suffering. Your comment is a distraction from the reality. The credit bubble has already been created. It can only implode now. People are already suffering (see Europe), and many have suffered a long time for no sane reason. (See, for example, Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine.) All in the context of this economic system—a system which will not end the suffering but rather will perpetuate it. So, no, I don't cheer suffering. In fact, I regularly point people to The Work of Byron Katie as a means to end suffering. And I have been encouraging people in our community to prepare the the coming economic collapse in our country.

Brian Kuehn

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 5:23 p.m.

Mr. Bean, you stated: "Fortunately the world economic system is entering the next phase of collapse ... " Cheering on economic collapse and the accompanying human misery it will bring is a terribly misanthropic outlook.

Steve Bean

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

…and that certain economic incentives lead to sustainable outcomes. They don't. Fortunately, the world economic system is entering the next phase of collapse with the deflation underway in Europe and now the US stock market turning down.

Steve Bean

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 3 p.m.

Lou, I'm pretty sure it's the amount collected. Commodity prices are a major factor in what actually gets recycled because they affect the overall economic bottom line. This is a good example of why sustainability models that include economic vitality as a 'leg' (which I used to promote) are invalid. The use of money and the concepts of exchange and economies are *un*sustainable. Most of us are confused about this, and we continue to believe the untrue thoughts that there are sustainable ways to 'make money'.

Larry Ryan

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

And if you believe what you read on a2politico, I guess everything is true if you see it on the internet!

craig stolefield

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 4:04 a.m.

Gotta agree with Larry here. It would be a shorter list if Nicholas replied with something true. Seems like you have to consider the source too. Secret blogger who hid her identity while she ripped city government and everyone involved for a year then when found out, launched a well funded campaign for mayor....

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:56 a.m.

Nice non-specific attack. If you have specific facts to refute, let's hear'em.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

a2politico has run some good stories on the mixed recycling debacle and high costs. It also exposes some interesting aspects to ownership relationships of the businesses which profit from it. A2 residents can sort their own recycling, without paying others to do it for them.

Carrie Rheingans

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

I know Ann Arbor recently expanded its program to recycle more things (like plastic tubs, not just bottle-shaped plastics), but when will we be able to recycle styrofoam? Many cities accept styrofoam, but not Ann Arbor (

Sam S Smith

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

One can bring styrofoam to the Recycle Center on Ellsworth Road. There's a fee but to me it's a small price to pay versus having this in the environment. Sometimes, I'll collect my neighbor's styrofoam and take it with mine.

Steve Bean

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

Due to the low weight-to-volume ratio of Styrofoam and its static-electricity-inducing nature, recycling it isn't cost effective. I suspect that those communities that do collect it do so as a sort of 'loss-leader' approach, figuring that the simplicity of accepting as many materials as possible will result in higher overall volumes of all materials—even if they end up landfilling certain materials. I also suspect that there is so little Styrofoam in production now with better alternatives that storing and processing it are likewise cost prohibitive. Reduce and reuse apply in this case.

Dog Guy

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

I attempted to download "the full report" but found only an "infographic poster". I still don't know how much this recycling cost us. Apparently recycling is like public art . . . Priceless!