Cardboard recycling 101

Cardboard Recycling 101

This story was originally published by WOOD-TV for woodtv.com/eightwest.

Think about it, these days, we have a lot of things delivered to us through the mail. While it’s convenient, it also uses a lot of cardboard! Cardboard boxes and packaging can be big and bulky, so we definitely want to find a good place for it. What we should be doing is recycling it. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy wants to encourage and educate everyone on how to do that best, so take a look!

When it comes to cardboard, one thing you want to do, is remove the tape, foam, and other packing materials before you recycle it, because these items get stuck in the recycling machines and can cause a lot havoc. With the holiday season coming up, this is really important!

Learn the rules of recycling cardboard

Learn the rules of recycling cardboard

This story was originally published by WDIV for clickondetroit.com/live-in-the-d.

After the last piece of pizza has been eaten, and the clothes from your online shopping spree have been hung with care, what do you do with all of those cardboard boxes? Our partners at The Michigan Department or Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, or EGLE, are spreading the word on how we can recycle correctly.

We've seen the cute recycling raccoons tell us how to take proper care of our plastics and glass, but they also have rules for cardboard. For instance, all cardboard boxes should be broken down and flattened when stored in the recycling container. Doing this makes transporting them easier, and helps the entire recycling process flow smoothly.

When it comes to pizza boxes, if the container is saturated with grease and debris, it is not recyclable. However, if the box is pretty clean, remove and throw away the pizza plate that comes on the bottom of the box, then break down the rest, and send it to the recycling center.

One center that is working with EGLE to teach people how to recycle, and to do it properly, is Recycle Here! Detroit. This center not only takes most items that you didn't or wouldn't think are recyclable, but they take the time to explain how to clean, break down and store it.

To learn more about Recycle Here! Detroit's recycling center, visit recyclehere.net.

What’s the secret to recycling cardboard? Ask Michigan’s Recycling Raccoons

What’s the secret to recycling cardboard? Ask Michigan’s Recycling Raccoons

Carlos Cardboard - Recycling Racoon holds piece of cardboard
Learn the secrets of recycling cardboard with Carlos Cardboard.
This story was originally published on the Detroit Free Press website.

If you want to improve your recycling habits, it’s best to listen to the experts.

That’s why we asked Carlos Cardboard to sit down with us and clarify some of the most confounding cardboard questions. Carlos is part of the six-member Michigan Recycling Raccoon Squad, whose mission is to teach Michiganders what can — and cannot — be recycled.

These furry recycling champions are part of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s (EGLE) Know It Before You Throw It education campaign, which kicked off this summer in every corner of the state.

EGLE’s goal is to double the state’s recycling rate to 30% by 2025 and ultimately reach 45%. Right now, Michigan’s 15% recycling rate is the lowest in the Great Lakes states region and ranks among the lowest in the nation.

Carlos is a cardboard connoisseur and obsessed with flattening. A snappy dresser, he has a bow tie for every day of the week. Most of all, he loves sharing best practices for recycling cardboard.

Carlos-Cardboard
Carlos Cardboard explains which types of cardboard can be recycled.

What kinds of cardboard are OK to recycle?

Great question! I reaaaallly love recycling cardboard, don’t you? It’s so … well … boxy! My favorites are tissue boxes, paper towel and toilet paper rolls, cardboard packaging and food boxes that you’d keep in the pantry – those are all good to go in the recycling bin. So, go for it!

Can I recycle my freezer food boxes?

Boxed containers made for refrigerator and freezer foods have added chemicals to keep the boxes from getting soggy and wet. That makes them difficult to recycle – but not impossible. I’d suggest checking with your local recycling provider to see if it accepts them.

Should I stack my boxes inside one another as a do-it-yourself recycling bin?

No. Boxes are bulky and take up extra room in the trucks that pick them up; flattening them saves space and makes the sorting process easier. Like I always say, “Flattery will get you nowhere, but flattening will!”

Are empty juice cartons recyclable?

Many communities accept cartons in their curbside recycling program, but not all. That’s because juice and milk cartons are actually made of two or three layers of paper, plastic and aluminum, which makes them trickier to recycle.

Should I peel off labels and tape from boxes before I recycle them?

Best recycling practice is to take the tape off. So, while you don’t have to remove them, your recycler would love it if you did.

Why doesn’t my recycler accept pizza boxes?

Grease and stuck-on food on pizza boxes ruins the cardboard for recycling. It can also ruin the other items in your recycling bin by getting them dirty and greasy. Want my secret? If the pizza box top is clean, I rip it off and recycle that portion. Then I eat all that gooey cheese left in the box and throw that part in the trash.

Should I remove staples from cardboard?

Nope! Staples are OK to leave in. Just make sure that cardboard is flat – just how I like it!

Overall, it’s important to keep in mind that every community has different rules about recycling. So be sure to check with your local provider to find out what’s accepted in your area.

Recycling Glass 101

Recycling Glass 101

This story was originally published by WOOD-TV for woodtv.com/eightwest.

You may know that recycling has many benefits including energy savings, reduction in water use, decreases in greenhouse gases and conserving resources to name a few. But did you know that just 15% of Michiganders recycle, the lowest in the Great Lakes region and among the lowest in the nation. And not all those who recycle are doing it properly. But there is a new effort to change all that. the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy has kicked off a campaign to better inform Michiganders what can – and cannot – be recycled, as well as to increase the amount of material recycled statewide. This campaign, titled the “Know It Before You Throw It” campaign aims to promote best practices and emphasize that recycling provides a wide range of environmental and economic benefits and this week we’re focusing on glass.

Like many to-be recycled products, it is critical to rinse and empty all glass containers. This means rinsing out containers, so they are completely empty of food or beverages prior to tossing them in the recycling bin. Clear glass food jars are usually accepted curbside. However, lids should be removed to be recycled in their respective streams (plastic or metal). Non-food glass is rarely recycled curbside, so items like glassware or lightbulbs have to be recycled elsewhere. Every municipality in Michigan has slightly different rules, however. It’s important to routinely check with local officials about what’s permissible in individual communities. Specifically, for glass, it’s important to check to see if they accept brown, green and blue glass curbside.

Recycling glass? You may be doing it all wrong and here’s why

Recycling glass? You may be doing it all wrong and here's why

This story was originally published by WDIV for clickondetroit.com/live-in-the-d.

Live in the D's  Kila Peeples ventured to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to learn more about how to recycle glass correctly.

The "Know it Before you Throw It" campaign is helping people recycle glass the right way.

Here are the rules for recycling glass containers.

1) Rinse your container before throwing it in the recycle bin

2) Separate tops and lids from the jars

Kila also visited the Schupan recycling plant to see how the recycled glass is processed.

Here is the process after you recycle your glass:

Schupan's process for glass is very thorough. The glass comes from the retailer to the processing plant. Then it's separated by green, brown and clear. Next it proceeds up to the glass crushers. After that the glass is sent to glass recyclers in Dearborn.

Over 140 million pounds of glass is recycled per year at Schupan Recycling in Wixom. Because of Michigan's deposit law, Michiganders have a 90% recycling rate, one of the best in the country.

Remember, recycling clean materials leads to successful recycling!

To learn more about the Schupan recycling company visit, schupan.com.

West Michigan craft breweries, Raccoon Squad clear on benefits of glass recycling

West Michigan craft breweries, Raccoon Squad clear on benefits of glass recycling

 

An empty beer bottle is a sad sight for some folks.

This story was originally published on MLive Media Group.

But for West Michigan craft beer producers Founders Brewing Co. and Bell’s Brewery, it’s an opportunity to help Mother Nature.

“We focus on trying to use our resources in a way that allows us and future generations to continue to use those resources for a long time,” said Kate Martini, sustainability specialist at Bell’s, the Kalamazoo-based brewery that makes over 20 beers, including the popular Oberon and Two Hearted ales.

Bell’s not only recycles its waste amber glass, but it also recovers cardboard, paper, stretch wrap, green plastic banding, keg caps, wood, electronics, batteries, scrap metal and aluminum used in its production process. In 2018, the brewery recycled 1.5 million pounds of waste that otherwise would have ended up in a landfill.

Founders – the Grand Rapids beer maker that runs neck and neck with Bell’s for the title of largest brewer based in Michigan – is dedicated to increasing its recycling rate and reducing waste sent to landfills.

“Glass is a fundamental part of what we do. That’s why our glass is an average of 40% recycled content:  We’re always striving to be a responsible member of the glass community,” said Elizabeth Wonder, sustainability coordinator for Founders, whose signature beers include All Day IPA and Kentucky Breakfast Stout.

Improving Michigan’s recycling rate

Michigan in 1976 was the first state in the nation to enact a bottle and can deposit law, which tacks an extra dime onto the cost of each carbonated beverage sold in the state, to be redeemed later for a 10-cent refund on containers.

Thanks to the deposit law, returnables account for much of all recycled glass in the state. But returnable containers represent only 15% of all materials Michiganders recycle every year, according to the Container Recycling Institute.

If recycling habits improve, more than half of the state’s municipal solid waste now dumped in landfills could instead be recycled.

Unlike many other materials, glass bottles are endlessly recyclable. That means returning glass containers like that empty queso jar for recycling helps make new glass bottles and jars.

But state leaders say Michigan needs to do a better job recycling its glass – as well as its paper, metal, cardboard, and plastic. The state’s current 15% recycling rate is the lowest in the Great Lakes region and among the lowest nationwide.

That’s why this summer the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, known as EGLE, launched Know It Before You Throw It, a first-of-its-kind statewide education campaign to better inform Michiganders on how to recycle correctly and what can — and cannot — be recycled.

Along with teaching Michiganders “cleaner” recycling practices, EGLE also wants to double the state’s recycling rate to 30% by 2025 and ultimately reach 45% annually.

Cleaner is better

Glass recycling faces several hurdles.

After the glass in your curbside recycling leaves your front yard, it’s taken to a recycling facility where it’s checked for cleanliness and sorted by material type and color. From there, the glass is crushed into pieces ranging in size from gravel and pebbles to sand and powder. Those crushed materials are sold to manufacturers that further melt them down to create new products like beer bottles.

But too often recycling bins are treated as extra garbage cans, with the contents failing to meet processing companies’ cleanliness standards. Contamination – like that little bit of queso you can’t reach at the bottom of the jar – not only ends up ruining the quality of glass being recycled, but it also puts everything else in your curbside bin at risk of being unusable. (If that queso drips on nearby cardboard, for example, the cardboard is no longer fit for recycling.)

EGLE-commissioned research shows that teaching residents how to properly recycle is key. The Know It Before You Throw It campaign features the six-member Recycling Raccoon Squad, recycling champions who serve as EGLE’s education ambassadors.

“By learning a few simple rules, we can elevate our rate of recycling, increase the amount we recycle and help build stronger, more prosperous communities. That’s a win-win-win for everyone,” said EGLE Materials Management Division Assistant Director Elizabeth Browne.

Recycling Raccoons

Clear rules for glass recycling

Gladys Glass, EGLE’s raccoon expert on recycling glass, has a few easy rules to guide Michiganders on her webpage:

  • Rinse and empty all glass before recycling.
  • Clear glass food jars are usually accepted curbside.
  • Check with your local recycler to see if it accepts brown, green and blue glass curbside.
  • Clear, nonfood glass is only rarely accepted curbside, so check with your local recycler.
  • Lids should be removed to be recycled in their respective streams (plastic or metal).
  • The glass used for cooking purposes — such as Pyrex — is not accepted curbside.
  • Lightbulbs are not accepted in curbside recycling programs, but some types of lightbulbs can be recycled at participating retail stores.

Every municipality in Michigan has slightly different rules, though. Certain types of glass accepted in one city aren’t necessarily accepted in another. It’s important to routinely check with local recycling providers about what’s allowed in individual communities.

Bottle-to-bottle recycling

Glass recycling also helps preserve limited natural resources. Making a new bottle from recycled glass, for example, reduces raw material use, is cost-efficient, uses less energy, lessens the carbon footprint and creates jobs.

Achieving EGLE’s 30% recycling goal would produce as many as 12,986 jobs, which translates into $300 million annually for Michigan’s economy, according to the Expanding Recycling in Michigan Report prepared for the Michigan Recycling Partnership.

The Recycling Raccoon campaign is a clear step in the right direction for businesses, residents, municipalities and environmental advocates across Michigan.

“Glass is a core recyclable and residents want to recycle it,” said Jim Nordmeyer of the Glass Recycling Coalition Leadership Committee.

Bell’s is so committed to sustainability that in 2017 it joined the coalition, which works with member organizations in the beverage and recycling industries to encourage glass recycling.

For its part, Founders in 2018 achieved a 90% landfill diversion rate and is shooting for 92% in 2019.

“Founders understands that we must do our best to be good stewards of the environment by reducing and optimizing our use of natural resources,” Wonder said.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Recycling: How to do it properly

The Do's and Don’ts of Recycling: How to do it properly

This story was originally published by FOX17's Morning Mix for fox17online.com.

Everyone knows recycling materials is good for the planet and reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. It's also good for business as companies that use those recycled materials grow and produce like new products used solely from these materials.

15 percent of Michiganders recycle, but that's the lowest percentage in the Great Lakes region and among the lowest int he nation. Not to mention not all those who recycle do it properly.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy has kicked off a campaign called "Know It Before You Throw It" to better inform Michiganders what can – and cannot – be recycled, as well as to increase the amount of material recycled statewide.

Scott Dean of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and Kyle Shoemaker of the Kent County Department of Public Works demonstrate on how to properly recycle.

Basic soup cans or tuna cans can be recycled, just remember to rinse and empty before putting into the recycling bin. The lids can also be recycled, but it’s best to pin them in the container to limit the possibility of it being lost in the bin.

Another notable fact about these metal containers is that the paper wrapping does not need to be removed.

Wire hangers are not recyclable curbside as they have a tendency to jam machinery and pose a threat to recycling workers’ safety. Do not place these in curbside containers.

Michigan has a 10-cent deposit on pop cans, but not everyone can have this ability. Aluminum is very recyclable. In fact, 75% of all aluminum produced is still in use today.

Empty aerosol cans are generally recyclable curbside, as long as they didn’t contain something hazardous such as paint or chemicals. Cans empty of the product and the plastic components are taken off, so it’s ready to go in the curbside bin.

To learn more about how to recycle in Kent County visit reimaginetrash.org.

Think you’re recycling the right way? Here’s what you need to know

Think you're recycling the right way? Here's what you need to know

This story was originally published by WDIV for clickondetroit.com/live-in-the-d.

Everyday you're likely to use some sort of can or metal, whether it's a pop or soup can. What do you do when you are finished with it? Toss it in the trash? You should consider recycling them. Our friends at The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, or EGLE, encourage you to recycle, the right way. Because that old can you tossed out may be reused for something completely different.

EGLE said once a can has been used, rinse it out and then recycle it. Being mindful of aerosol cans is key, so make sure all of the liquid is removed from the can before recycling. This not only protects the environment, but also workers at the recycling plant. Michigan is one of the best at recycling cans, mostly due to the Michigan Deposit Law and the abundant locations to return cans. Thanks to the law, we return hundreds of thousands of cans a year. Which in return, no pun intended, are cleaned, crushed and repurposed into new cans within 60 days.

If you want to learn more about the Schupan Recycling Company visit schupan.com.

Recycling metal – what you need to know

Recycling metal – what you need to know

This story was originally published by WOOD-TV for woodtv.com/eightwest.

In an average day, you will likely come in contact with many different types of metal products – everything from pop cans to canned food containers – but how can we do our part to make sure we’re recycling these products properly? Rachael visited the Kent County Recycling and Education Center to find about a new effort by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. It is aimed at educating and encouraging people to recycle and recycle properly. The campaign is designed to better inform Michiganders what can – and cannot – be recycled, as well as to increase the amount of material recycled statewide.

What are the key things to know when recycling metals?

  • Metal food cans, pans, pots, empty aerosol cans, aluminum foil, other clean metals such as license plates.
  • All aluminum, steel and tin materials should be clean before recycling
  • It is OK to leave labels on metal containers
  • Empty aerosol cans are generally recyclable curbside, as long as they didn’t contain something hazardous such as paint or chemicals.

However certain types of metal products are not accepted curbside in most places but often can be recycled at a drop-off location or special recycling event. Those products include: Scrap metal, Kitchen pots and pans, Wire hangers, which jam recycling facility machines, construction materials (e.g., screws, nails, etc.) that are too small and fall through the recycling machines, medical sharps like needles and syringes – they’re dangerous to recycling facility workers

So not all materials can be recycled, but that doesn’t mean that they have to go in the trash. Kent County Recycling & Education Center hosts “Imagine Craft Mondays” every Monday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. here at the center.  This program gives them the opportunity to teach kids about the importance of recycling, but also gives them the chance to turn trash into crafts.

Recycling & Education Center
977 Wealthy SW
Grand Rapids

Metal recycling in southeast Michigan takes many shapes — including art

Metal recycling in southeast Michigan takes many shapes — including art

Man creating art from recycled metal

This story was originally published on The Detroit Free Press.

For professional artist Chris Nesbitt, conversations about metal can get heavy, sometimes into the hundreds of pounds.

“The great thing about working with metal is that it’s so durable,” Nesbitt said. “It’s made to last. There’s something satisfying knowing that these works will probably last longer than me.”

Nesbitt is an artist with DunMor Metal Art, a Waterford Township-based full-service decor company specializing in rustic metal art. Founded in 2015 by Nesbitt’s friend Jeremy Macbeth, DunMor makes such products as custom-made art pieces, signs for both the home and business, and Michigan-themed art. Custom DunMor art has been sold around the U.S., as well as internationally.

All work is handmade from raw materials. Mostly, the pieces are crafted from 4-by-10-foot sheets manufactured in Michigan from new metal mixed with metal collected from curbside recycling bins.

“I’m very conscious about the importance of metal recycling,” said Nesbitt, a former chemical engineer. “It’s good to know that metal is getting a second or third life through our art.”

Improving Michigan’s recycling rate

Compared with much of the country, Michigan excels at recycling one type of metal: aluminum. That’s thanks in large part to Michigan’s first-in-the-nation bottle and can deposit law, which tacks an extra 10 cents onto the cost of each carbonated beverage sold in the state, to be redeemed later for a 10-cent refund.

More than 90% of bottles and cans that carry a deposit are recycled, but such returnable containers represent only 15% of all the waste Michiganders recycle every year. Almost 53% of the state’s municipal solid waste that goes to landfills could instead be recycled if done properly.

State leaders say Michigan needs to do a better job recycling its metal — as well as its paper, glass, cardboard and plastic. The state’s current 15% recycling rate is the lowest in the Great Lakes region and ranks among the lowest nationwide.

That’s why this summer, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, known as EGLE, launched Know It Before You Throw It, a first-of-its-kind statewide education campaign to better inform Michiganders on how to recycle correctly and what can — and cannot — be recycled.

‘A win-win-win for everyone’

EGLE’s goal is to promote awareness of cleaner recycling practices to reduce the amount of contaminated materials improperly going into recycling bins. The state also wants to double Michigan’s recycling rate to 30% by 2025 and ultimately reach 45% annually.

Achieving EGLE’s 30% recycling goal would produce a total of as many as 12,986 jobs, which translates into an economic impact of up to $300 million annually, according to the Expanding Recycling in Michigan Report prepared for the Michigan Recycling Partnership.

The Know It Before You Throw It campaign features the Recycling Raccoon Squad, a six-member team of recycling champions who serve as EGLE’s education ambassadors. EGLE-commissioned research shows that education is key in order for residents to learn how to properly recycle.

“By learning a few simple rules, we can elevate our rate of recycling, expand the amount we recycle and help build stronger, more prosperous communities, which is a win-win-win for everyone,” said EGLE Materials Management Division Assistant Director Elizabeth Browne.

Knowing the rules of recycling

It’s easy to remember many of the tips suggested by EGLE’s raccoon expert on recycling metal — Precious Metale — on her webpage:

— Rinse and empty all metal containers. This means rinsing out containers so they are completely empty of food scraps, such as soup, prior to tossing them into the recycling bin.

— Aluminum, steel and tin materials should be clean before recycling.

— It’s OK to leave labels on metal containers.

— Empty aerosol cans are generally recyclable curbside, as long as they didn’t contain something hazardous, such as paint or chemicals.

Every municipality in Michigan has slightly different rules, though. Certain types of metal accepted in one city aren’t necessarily accepted in another. It’s important to routinely check with local recycling providers about what’s permissible in individual communities.

Those certain types of metal products that are not accepted curbside in most places can often be recycled at a drop-off location or special recycling event. Products of that sort include:

— Scrap metal.

— Kitchen pots and pans.

— Wire hangers, which jam recycling facility machines.

— Construction materials such as screws or nails, which are too small and fall through the recycling machines.

— Medical sharps such as needles and syringes, which are dangerous to recycling facility workers.

Developing good recycling habits

The campaign is a breath of fresh air for Michigan’s recycling leaders.

“People get excited because they have those big recycling carts with all that room, but when you’re throwing scrap metal or batteries in there, you can contaminate an entire batch,” said Galen Hardy, spokesman for the community organization Zero Waste Detroit.

Zero Waste Detroit works with the Detroit Department of Public Works to promote healthy methods of waste diversion, including keeping materials from being incinerated. Hardy said the city’s current recycling rate is only about 4%, a number he’d like to see get up to at least 30%.

“The Know It Before You Throw it campaign is smart, because it’s really good at encouraging the public to develop good recycling habits,” he said.

© Copyright 2019, EGLE. All Rights Reserved.

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