Changes Could Be Coming to the Way Michigan Recycles

One goal of the initiative is to raise the state’s low recycling performance.

Shelby Jouppi

Gov. Rick Snyder plans to roll out a recycling initiative later this fall. And legislation aimed at changing how Michigan recycles is already in the works.

One goal of the initiative is to raise the state’s low recycling performance.

The initiative would like to divert solid waste that’s being sent to landfills to recycling centers, said Executive Director of the Michigan Recycling Coalition Kerrin O’Brien.

“This is an effort to really level the playing field. To make recycling and composting services more readily available to support the growth of an industry,” she said.

One issue with recycling is plastic bags. Plastic grocery bags can’t go into curbside recycling bins. Most recycling centers don’t have the machinery to recycle plastic shopping bags.

O’Brien said the recycling programs need to do a better job of letting people know where they can drop off bags to be recycled.

“People really want to do the right thing and they’re aiming to do the right thing,” she said. “It’s just that we don’t always have the resources we need to help them do the right thing. So education and outreach is pretty critical to making it all work.”

O’Brien said potential legislation would require counties to keep track of what happens to different types of waste.  Counties would also have to explain how they will achieve a 30 percent recycling goal.

“So we’re really talking about a whole system of managing materials differently,” O’Brien said.


  • Cheyna Roth
    Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She's also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.