2017-07-06 / Front Page

Recycling Upgrade Eyed at St. Ignace

Survey Underway To Gauge Public Interest
By Erich T. Doerr

The City of St. Ignace could expand recycling under a new proposal from Waste Management to reopen its transfer station on Cheeseman Road as a recycling drop-off point, if residents are willing to pay $5 per vehicle and if volunteers will monitor what is being dropped off. To see if the plan may be feasible, the St. Ignace Planning Commission has posted surveys on the city and county websites to get feedback about local interest in recycling. They will be available through the summer.

Planning Commission Chair Betsy Dayrell-Hart said she thinks the recycling is worth doing.

“It’s not that hard,” she said, “and it’s better than putting everything in a landfill.”

The $5 per vehicle charge would help Waste Management cover its costs, since St. Ignace does not have a recycling millage to fund it. A pervehicle charge would also allow the program to be available to everyone, including out-of-town visitors, instead of just Mackinac County residents.

Sault Ste. Marie Waste Management site manager Mike Donajkowski said the company is preparing a two-phase plan for expanding its recycling efforts. The first phase will start in mid to late July with the $5 per vehicle service being tested with a cardboard-only drop off. Waste Management employees will monitor the collection and talk with the public about it, so it will maintain its planned focus on flattened, corrugated cardboard. The container for the cardboard will be installed near Waste Management’s main building. White, waxy, or food-contaminated cardboard like pizza boxes will not be collected. The collection would be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays during the station’s normal business hours. The recycling will begin once Waste Management installs signs.

The second phase, around fall, would add paper and plastic, with glass and magazines another possibility. The price will remain $5 a vehicle.

Both Dr. Dayrell-Hart and Mr. Donajkowski recommend that those interested in recycling take the online survey. The survey includes seven questions about the possible expansion of services and interest in volunteering. It has been up for about a month and received 55 responses through June, but more are needed to provide a better gauge of local interest.

“The important thing is for more people to answer the survey,” Dr. Dayrell-Hart said.

Of the responses received so far, all of them said they want recycling available and are willing to clean and sort the material before dropping it off. The answers also revealed 88.9% of the responders would be willing to take it to the station to drop off, but only 50% liked the idea of a $5 charge.

On the topic of volunteering, 31.5% of those surveyed said they would be interested, with the number increasing to 38.9% if doing so meant their own recycling would be free. Dr. Dayrell-Hart said she is not surprised fewer people would want to volunteer, but is pleased almost a third of everyone who responded said they would. She also spoke to several individuals before posting the survey, with most saying they wouldn’t mind paying for the service, but that they were not interested in volunteering. The need for volunteers at the station is expected to be temporary, just for the first one or two months of the service, with a focus on teaching local residents what can and cannot be collected. Shifts could be for one or two hours. Dr. Dayrell-Hart said the presence of volunteers to help the collection could lead to it being expanded to include additional materials.

The city’s current recycling service offers curbside pickup of paper, plastic, and cans, using rolling receptacles differentiated from trash cans by the presence of a yellow lid. It is available only to city residents. All residents of Mackinac County are allowed to take their recyclables to the free drop-off points for neighboring Emmet County’s program, as long as they are properly sorted. While this is free, it requires driving across the Mackinac Bridge to do so. Dr. Dayrell-Hart pointed out the charge for the service in St. Ignace would be about the same as one would pay for bridge fare and fuel taking material to Mackinaw City.

Waste Management previously offered a drop-off point for recyclables at its St. Ignace station, but the service was discontinued after too many people used it to dispose of items improperly, dumping unrecyclable items into the collection bins. There were collections for cardboard, paper, cans, and plastic, but glass and garbage were also often dumped off, leading to the end of service and a desire for volunteers to educate people to avoid a repeat this time.

The surveys can be found at the county site, mackinaccounty.net, and the planning commission page of the city site, cityofstignace.com/index.php?pag e=Planning_ Commission.

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