2009-05-07 / News

Recycling Information Sessions Planned, With Eye To Forming Program Here

By Jonathan Eppley

The Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning and Development Commission is planning to educate students in Mackinac and Luce counties about the environmental benefits of recycling. The commission recently received a $40,000 grant from the Rural Development office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to educate students in St. Ignace, Les Cheneaux, Engadine, and Newberry school districts. The commission also plans to hold a series of community presentations this summer to spark recycling interest in those areas outside of schools.

The goal of the program is to create interest and discussion in each community to figure out what recycling plans, if any, would best fit them, said Jeff Hagen, commission Regional Planning director.

"The general consensus is that people want to recycle," he said, "but where can you take it?"

Neither Luce or Mackinac offer a formal recycling program or facilities, unlike Chippewa County, which has a county-wide millage supporting the Chippewa County Recycling Center in Sault Ste. Marie. The City of St. Ignace and Green Choice Refuse and Recycling in Clark Township have contracts with Waste Management to provide recycling services to those areas.

St. Ignace provides residential recycling services with its weekly curb-side garbage pick-up under a 10-year contract with Waste Management, which will end at the end of 2009. Residents are charged $9.24 monthly for one garbage can per week pick-up and $12.86 for three cans, and seniors are charged $4.96 for one can. Recycling bins are emptied at no extra charge.

"All of these folks get recycling included with their garbage pick-up," said city executive secretary Kathy Cryderman. "There isn't a recycling charge."

Green Choice in Cedarville penned a deal with Waste Management earlier this year and set up several closed-top compactors for sorting recyclable materials. Employees sort through the materials brought to the center, which also accepts commercial materials from area contractors. Residential customers are charged $2 for a 30- gallon bag of recyclable material and $4 for a 30-gallon bag of refuse. Commercial customers are charged $50 for a pick-up truck load, $100 for a 20-foot trailer sized load, and $20 for appliances.

Mr. Hagan expects high turnout and participation at the summer presentations in communities with large numbers of seasonal residents returning for the summer. He said many of them are returning from areas with county- or city-sponsored recycling programs.

"I'm pretty sure most of the residents would be supportive" of introducing recycling programs in other EUP communities, he said.

The commission plans to give a presentation at Engadine Consolidated Schools Wednesday, May 6. Presentations at the other three districts will be scheduled next fall.

The commission is working with Northern Transitions, which operates the recycling center in Sault Ste. Marie, and Superior Watershed Partnership in Marquette, which advocates recycling, conservation, and watershed protection in the U.P., to help determine what types of programs would work best in each community.

The commission handed out informational brochures, pencils made from recycled newspapers, and reusable tote bags made from recycled plastic at the St. Ignace Home Show April 17 and April 18 to let people know about the upcoming project.

The commission is also working to post educational material about recycling on its Web site, www.eup-planning.org.

"We're trying to get information out to as many people as we can about the benefits of recycling," Mr. Hagan said.

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