What is Recycling?
Recycling is a series of activities that includes collecting recyclable materials that would otherwise be considered waste, sorting and processing recyclables into raw materials such as fibers, and manufacturing raw materials into new products (EPA website).
In 2003, U.S. residents, businesses, and institutions produced more than 236 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), which is approximately 4.5 pounds of waste per person per day.
One of the ways to manage MSW is by recycling. Recycling diverts items such as papers, glass, plastic, and metals from the waste stream. Another way is by composting.
Simply, materials that are not reused, recycled, or composted—in other words, things you throw away in the dumpster—will go to the landfill and combustion facilities.
EPA has ranked the most environmentally sound strategies for MSW. Source reduction (reuse) is the most preferred method, followed by recycling and composting, and lastly disposal in combustion facilities and landfills.
According to EPA, the United States currently recovers, recycles and composts 30 percent of waste, burns 14 percent at combustion facilities, and disposes of 56 percent in landfills.
Next time when you throw away garbage, think about the time needed for the materials to ‘biodegrade’ (Biodegradation is the decomposition of organic material by microorganisms). Some materials are biodegradable, some don’t. Look at the table below:
|Product||Time to biodegrade|
|Cotton rags||1-5 months|
|Orange peels||6 months|
|Wool socks||1 to 5 years|
|Cigarette filters||1 to 12 years|
|Plastic coated paper milk cartons||5 years|
|Leather shoes||25 to 40 years|
|Nylon fabric||30 to 40 years|
|Tin cans||50 to 100 years|
|Aluminum cans||80 to 100 years|
|Plastic bags||450 years|
|Plastic 6-pack holder rings||450 years|
|Glass bottles||1 million years|
Here are some facts on the condition of our landfill.
What things do we recycle? Go to: Recycling Items.
How about Yard Waste (yard trimmings, grass clippings, leaves and Christmas trees)? Learn about home composting.
How about Household hazardous waste (alkaline batteries, bug spray, anti-freeze, nail polish, and many more!)?
Learn about household hazardous waste: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Learn more about recycling: Amazing Recycling Facts
Want to get money from recycling??
The Meijer recycling program not only provides schools with an opportunity to earn money, but also encourages and educates children about the importance of recycling.
Schools who are enrolled in the recycling program receive up to $1.00 per pound for collecting used Meijer grocery bags. Schools must register to participate by calling Enviro-Bag® at:
Toll Free: 1-800-866-3954, Monday thru Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
How does Van Buren Township do on recycling?
According to Wayne County Department of Environment Annual Municipality Solid Waste Stream Report for year 2004:
- Materials generated is 2.30 lbs/person/day material generated
- Total material collected/treated reflects curbside pick up only. Does not include bulk waste, commercial or industrial waste streams
- Total materials treated is 9,874 tons, a 1.49% increase from the previous year.
- Total materials recycled increase for 1.31%, materials composted increase for 5.27%, while materials sent to landfill also increase for 0.65%, compared to the previous year
Condo and apartment dwellers: participate to recycle!!
If you don’t have curbside collection, you may take your recyclables to the Woodland Meadows Waste Management Recycling Center located on Van Born Rd. between Haggerty and Hannan roads. Hours of operation are 8 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday and 8 am to noon on Saturdays. Questions? Call (743) 326-0993.
- Contact the Homeowner’s Association to request for curbside collection
Composting – Yard Waste to Yard Riches
Through the natural process of decomposition, leaves and grass clippings from your yard can be transformed into a soil-enriching substance called compost. When mixed with sandy soil, compost helps to retain and hold water. When mixed with clay soils, compost loosens the soil particles and improves drainage. Compost is known as gardener’s gold because it improves soil structure, retains water, encourages root growth, aerates soil, releases nutrients slowly, supports beneficial microorganisms and earthworms, and suppresses some soil-borne diseases.
Materials for Composting
Building the compost pile
To build the pile, follow these steps:
- Start with a layer of organic materials such as shredded leaves, grass, or other garden debris.For an idealcomposting mix use twice as much carbon material (leaves)as nitrogen material (grass clippings)
- Water the layer until it is asmoist as a wrung-outsponge.
- Add 2″-3″ of soil or compost — to provide microorganisms.
- If possible, mix all materials together as you build the pile.
- Continue the process of adding organic materials, soil, and water until the bin is filled. Add grass clippings in small amounts and mix in thoroughly.
- Water each layer…and check moisture periodically. Build the pile to a size of 3 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet or slightly larger — or fill the compost bin.
Turning the pile
Turning and mixing the compost pile with a pitchfork or compost turner adds oxygen, prevents odors and accelerates the rate of decomposition. The pile may be turned once a week, once a month, several times a year, or not at all. If the pile isturned over and mixed from time-to-time and keptmoist, finished compost is usually available in six to nine months.
(Source: Rouge River National Wet Weather Demonstration Project)
For more information:
Compost Resource Page:
Amazing Recycling Facts
Michigan residents generate enough garbage each day to fill the Pontiac Silverdome.
The average American throws 3 – 5 pounds of trash away daily. That is one billion pounds of waste each day in the U.S.
Americans make up 5% of the worlds population and create 50% of the worlds garbage.
The nations overall recycling rate has grown from 11% to 27% over the past 10 years.
Americans throw away enough office and writing paper annually to build a wall twelve feet high stretching from Los Angeles to New York City.
Every Sunday in a major city, more than 500,000 trees are used to produce the Sunday newspaper
A ton of paper recycled saves 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 24 gallons of gasoline, 464 gallons of oil, and conserves 3.5 cubic yards of landfill space.
Some of the end products created from plastic bottles include piping, garbage bags, park benches, t-shirts, carpet and filling for sleeping bags and ski jackets.
Every glass bottle recycled saves enough energy to light a 100 watt bulb for four hours.
In Michigan, 90% of aluminum deposit cans are currently recycled.
Aluminum recycling is so successful the industry estimated that each can sold at an average store will be back on a store shelf within six weeks.
Each year, steel recycling saves enough energy to meet the electrical power needs of the City of Los Angeles for more than eight years.
We throw away enough iron and steel to continuously supply all the nation’s automakers.