Iris Waste Diversion Specialist Sarah Archer, hired by the Barry County Solid Waste Oversight Committee to help find a solution to low recycling in the county, reported on the first phase of her Recycling Assessment Report to Barry County Commissioners Tuesday.
She noted the good and the not so-good state of recycling in Barry County.
“I’m really impressed with what’s going on here, it’s a pleasure to see a lot of recycling here in the county,” she said.
However, the national average of recycling is 30 percent, Michigan and Barry County’s recycle rate is 15 percent. Governor Rick Snyder has set a goal of upping Michigan’s recycling rate from 15 to 45 percent by setting up a panel to to evaluate current solid waste laws and find ways for sustainable management of solid waste to avoid sending it to a landfill, Archer said.
While some waste haulers in the county offer curb side recycling for a fee, few people take advantage of it, she noted. Some townships offer 24 hour open air unstaffed recycling bins at township halls, some municipalities offer drop-off sites or transfer stations. The waste and recycling stations are gated and have limited hours of operation open only to residents whose municipalities pay for the operation. Waste Management accepts recycle items at the Hastings landfill, charging non-Hastings residents for its use, she said.
“Many opportunities exist for recycling in Barry County; however further research is needed to determine actual participation levels and volume of materials diverted,” she said. “Based on the data gathered for this study and the subjective information provided by municipal officials, a low recycling participation rates is suspected,” she wrote in her report.
Phase two of her analysis, which she will present in October, will be a comprehensive look at all facets of recycling, with a strong focus on communication and education of county residents and more specific recommendations to the BCSWOC and the commission, she said.
A county website, an open phone line to answer questions, a recycling guide and eliminating barriers to recycling are some ways that will help increase the recycling participation rate, she concluded.
In other business Tuesday, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve a MDOT offer to pave a 10-foot wide section of the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail from across the Nashville VFW Post 8260 to Fuller Elementary School as a detour for pedestrians when the bridge over Quaker Bridge on M-66 is replaced.
Barry County Parks & Recreation representative Patricia Johns said the MDOT will pay the $75,000 cost of the project and is also considering funding improvements on the trail going across Nashville VFW’s property.
Rick Moore, also with Parks & Recreation, said he has talked to every property owner along the section of trail and all are in favor of the paving.