Zero Waste DetroitZero Waste Detroit (ZWD) is a collaborative of over twenty community, environmental and environmental justice organizations in the City of Detroit that has been in existence since 2007.  ZWD’s goal is to move the City of Detroit to a solid waste management system that captures the value of the waste stream–recycling—thereby avoiding the incineration of that waste, with all of the negative economic and environmental consequences associated with that form of “problem solving”.

The good news is that curbside recycling is now available throughout Detroit. However, the city requires households to purchase their own recycling container at $25/cart in order to participate in the program.  Many families in Detroit simply can’t afford such an expense.  As a result, ZWD has created a fund to provide recycling carts to as many households as possible.

As citizens with a long-standing commitment to recycling and waste minimization, Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County residents have an opportunity to support Detroit’s efforts to make recycling successful.  If you are willing to contribute to ZWD’s recycling cart donation program, please make your checks payable to the Michigan Environmental Council, and write “Detroit Cart Donation Program” in the memo section.  100% of your gift will go toward the purchase of recycling carts in the City of Detroit.  Checks can be sent to the MEC at 602 W. Ionia Street, Lansing, Michigan, 48933.

Recycling finally has a foot-hold in the City of Detroit.  Let’s do what we can as supportive neighbors to help ZWD fulfill its mission of empowering recovery and citizen involvement in Michigan’s beloved Motown.  For more information on ZWD’s efforts, please visit Zero Waste Detroit’s website.


Ann Arbor City Council 2015/16 Ann Arbor Budget Amendment
Approved Unanimously on Voice Vote

MAY 18, 2015


Whereas, There is a strong ethic of conservation and environmental stewardship among the residents of Ann Arbor;

Whereas, Ann Arbor residents put these values into practice, currently recycling and composting roughly half of their solid waste each year;

Whereas, The Waste Less: Solid Waste Resource Plan adopted in October 2013 set goals of increasing single family diversion rates from 50 to 60% and total citywide diversion rates from 31% to 40% by 2017;

Whereas, The most recent waste sort conducted by the City of Ann Arbor found that over 40% of the material making its way to the landfill from Ann Arbor was comprised of potentially recoverable organic waste, much of it food and wood waste;

Whereas, The City of Ann Arbor spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to send unrecovered materials to a private landfill;

Whereas, Meaningful increases in organics collection will require a host of inter-related strategies in order to maximize the recovery of these materials in a cost-effective and efficient manner;

Whereas, Such strategies might include: year-round organics collection in the residential, commercial and institutional sectors; source reduction education and outreach to reduce the volume of food waste; coordination and support of food rescue programs in the community; home composting demonstration and outreach; urban wood/forestry waste recovery; fats/oils/grease (FOG) management; citizen and business input in the design of collection programs; and a review of best practices in other communities;

Whereas, Ann Arbor City Council views minimization of waste and the conservation of natural resources to be a priority of the community, and therefore desires to create momentum to drive this agenda forward in a thoughtful manner; and

Whereas, The Solid Waste unrestricted fund balance at June 30, 2014 was $14.2 million and the Administrator’s proposed operating budget shows a $300,000 surplus in the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund;

RESOLVED, That $100,000.00 be allocated in the 2015/16 Solid Waste Operating Budget to create a comprehensive organics management plan for City Council to consider, including funding and program recommendations for fiscal 2016/17 and following; and

RESOLVED, That the Solid Waste Fund FY2016 expenditure budget be increased by $100,000.00 funded by a one-time use of fund balance; and

RESOLVED, That staff is directed to coordinate this planning process, providing an update to City Council on its progress no later than December 1, 2015; and

RESOLVED, That staff will work with the Environmental Commission in the development and organization of this effort in order to engage the wider community and provide transparency throughout the plan development process.

This spring, the State of Michigan DEQ department put out a call for “pollution prevention” grant applications. Recycle Ann Arbor, in partnership with the Washtenaw County Office of the Water Resources CommissionerEcology Center, and WISD, were awarded two grants. Here’s a brief summary of the two grants received locally, of only 16 grants awarded statewide:

Title: Zero Waste Event Initiative

Grant Award: $19,500.00

Local Grant Match: $8,661 (provided by Amcor)

Grant Lead: Recycle Ann Arbor

Grant Partners: Washtenaw County Office of the Water Resources Commissioner, Amcor Rigid Plastics

Project Description: Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County have dozens of community/public events each year, some with as few as 100 people attending, and some drawing tens of thousands of visitors.  Providing recycling/composting/zero waste services and education at these events is critical to boosting waste recovery opportunities and expectations in the community.  The goals of the grant are to expand the number of “zero waste events” in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, recovering a minimum of 90% of the “waste” at these events, and also build momentum for “zero waste events” to become the norm for ALL community sponsored festivals and events within Washtenaw County in the future.


Title: Washtenaw County School Recycling and Education Program

Grant Award: $32,000.00

Local Grant Match: $24,627.58

Grant Lead: Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD)

Grant Partners: Recycle Ann Arbor, The Ecology Center, Washtenaw County Office of the Water Resources Commissioner, Waste Management

Project Description: The Ann Arbor Public Schools have a vibrant recycling program operating in all of the schools within its district.  Other school districts outside of Ann Arbor have less developed recycling collection and educational programs.  This grant will establish recycling systems in eight public schools in various school districts throughout Washtenaw County (outside of Ann Arbor).  The goal is to test a variety of collection and educational trainings and events within these schools, in order to identify “best practices” for ultimate expansion into all of the public schools within Washtenaw County on a permanent basis.  A related goal is to model the success of this program to other school districts in the state, providing a comprehensive “toolkit” of programs, services, practices and opportunities that can be replicated in rural, suburban and urban school settings throughout Michigan.

Posted by: recycleannarbor | June 24, 2015

“Tidy Your Township” Campaign 2015

During winter 2015, Recycle Ann Arbor reached out to surrounding townships with one main goal- reduce the amount of illegal dumping in townships by ensuring that residents know where they can take frequently dumped items.

Our research suggested that that the following items are frequently dumped:

  • Tires
  • Construction materials and concrete
  • TVs
  • Refrigerators

For those townships proactively interested in tackling this issue, Recycle Ann Arbor researched environmentally sound options for their main dumping issues and waste streams. The options included Recycle Ann Arbor facilities, such as the Drop-Off Station or the Recovery Yard on Jackson Rd, but also included Washtenaw County Services such as the Home Toxics Collection Program and Clean Up Events.

We would like to thank Saline, Barton Hills Village, Webster, Salem, Dexter, Freedom, Superior, and Milan for agreeing to be proactive about disposal solutions.

If you live in a surrounding township and would like to know more about this campaign or recycling and waste issues, please contact us or visit our website.

Posted by: recycleannarbor | June 9, 2015

Drop-Off Station (DOS) Announces Expanded Summer 2015 Service Day

DOS Customer Unloading Items to Recycle

The Drop-Off Station (DOS) will expand its operation days to also include Mondays, 8:30am-1:30pm. This additional operation day will begin on Monday, June 15th and go through Monday, August 31st to better accommodate our customers this summer.

During 2014 on-site surveys, customers specified that Monday was the preferred additional day they would like to see the DOS open. We piloted this additional service day in summer 2014 and it was well received by the community.
To provide customers with a requested service and an additional opportunity to recycle, we have chosen to again open for half-a-day (8:30am-1:30pm) on Mondays this summer.

Recycle Ann Arbor’s Drop-Off Station, located at 2950 E. Ellsworth Road, targets recyclable materials originating from homes and small businesses. It is the largest public drop-off site in Michigan. Customers bring a range of waste types to the site, and Recycle Ann Arbor works to limit the amount of this material sent to landfill. Currently around 50% of the material brought to the DOS is sent for recycling.

With payment of the general entry fee ($3.00), customers can bring in a wide range of materials including:
-Vegetable Oil (up to 5 gallons)
-Packing Peanuts and Bubble Wrap
-Paper, books, and magazines
-Household Appliances
-Metal items
-Cords and Wires
-Up to 3 large bags of textiles
-Plastic Bags
-Automotive and Rechargeable Batteries
-Motor Oil, Brake Fluid and Transmission Fluid (up to 5 gallons)
-CPUs and Laptops
-Plastic #1- #7 (excluding #3)
-Rigid plastics such and plastic totes and lawn furniture
-Glass containers

Other items such as televisions, car tires, and mattresses are accepted for additional fees. For a full list of materials and details on fees please visit

In addition to being open on Mondays (8:30am -1:30pm) this summer, the Drop-Off Station is regularly open Tuesday and Thursday, 8:30am – 6:30pm, and Saturdays 9:00am to 6:00pm.

Choose to use the blue bin!

Due to its success and overwhelming positive community feedback, the city of Ann Arbor parks recycling program will expand slightly to include twenty parks for 2015. In 2014, fourteen city parks were chosen to pilot, based on the frequency of park users and events, with special consideration for areas with team sports fields, such as baseball and soccer.

During the 2014 pilot program, all recycling collection was documented by Recycle Ann Arbor (RAA) to assess overall participation, recycling fill rates, and any contamination (trash) of the materials present. Parks’ recycling bins that were continually 50-100% full weekly with recyclable material and low contamination rates were: Argo Park, Burns Park, Buhr Park, Island Park pavilions, and the Ann Arbor Skate Park at Veterans Memorial Park.

Colin Smith, City of Ann Arbor’s Parks & Recreation Services Manager, added, “Over the years, we often had requests for recycling in the parks, but previous efforts resulted in high rates of trash mixed in with recycling. The success of the pilot program last season is encouraging and we’re looking forward to being able to test out additional locations and see what works for the park users.”

For the 2015 season (May-November), these parks will have recycling available:
Allmendinger Park
Argo Park
Bandemer Park
Burns Park
Buhr Park
Clinton Park*
Frisinger Park
Fuller Park
Furstenberg Nature Area*
Gallup Park*
Hunt Park*
Island Park
Longshore Park*
Mary Beth Doyle Nature Area
Olson Park*
Southeast Area Park
Swift Run Dog Park*
Veterans Memorial Park and the Ann Arbor Skatepark
West Park
Wheeler Park
*Newly added parks for the 2015 season.

Recycling in the parks is just like recycling at your own home in Ann Arbor- glass, metal, empty plastic bottles & tubs (#1, #2, #4-7), and paper can all go into the single-stream bins. As a reminder, no food waste, Styrofoam, plastic bags or dog waste should go into recycling bins.

The creation of the pilot program stemmed from a section of the City of Ann Arbor’s Solid Waste Resource Plan (2013-2017) focused on increasing “public space recycling” options. The City of Ann Arbor Parks Recycling Pilot Program began in July 2014 and is a partnership between Recycle Ann Arbor (RAA), the City of Ann Arbor’s Solid Waste Division and the City of Ann Arbor’s Parks & Recreation Services Unit.

For more information about the recycling program in the parks, please contact Christine Chessler-Stull at or 734.662.6288 ext.119

To learn more about the City of Ann Arbor parks system, visit; or for details on the recycling program in Ann Arbor, go to

Posted by: recycleannarbor | April 14, 2015

Latex Paint Recycling Program Launches at the Drop-Off Station (DOS)

Starting on Saturday, April 18th, the Drop-Off Station (DOS) located at 2950 E. Ellsworth Road, will accept latex paint for recycling. The DOS constantly strives to expand the recycling services it offers to customers- specifically trying to implement those services that customers ask for. Customers often brought latex paint to the DOS for recycling and then were disappointed to find that it was not accepted on-site.

To address this, Recycle Ann Arbor has introduced a collection point in the barn. The collection service and processing will be through Epaint recycling, a local company based in Battle Creek, MI.

The cost to recycle latex paint is $2 per gallon can, and $10 per 5 gallon bucket.

-Types of Paint Accepted: Latex (Water-Based) paint only. Oil based paints such as glosses and varnishes are not accepted.
-Preparing the Paint: The paint should be in it’s original container with a secure lid.
-What Happens to the Paint: The paint is collected from Recycle Ann Arbor’s Drop-Off Station (DOS) and taken to EPaint Recyclers is Battle Creek. There the paint is emptied, mixed, and blended to produce a usable product.

To see this process in action watch this video:

Customers bringing paint to the Drop-Off Station are still subject to the $3 entry fee. To maximize the value of the visit to the customer they should be aware that they can bring the following at no extra cost:
-Vegetable Oil (up to 5 gallons)
-Packing Peanuts and Bubble Wrap
-Paper, books, and magazines
-Household Appliances
-Metal items
-Cords and Wires
-Up to 3 large bags of textiles
-Plastic Bags
-Automotive and Rechargeable Batteries
-Motor Oil, Brake Fluid and Transmission Fluid (up to 5 gallons)
-CPUs and Laptops
-Plastic #1- #7 (excluding #3)
-Rigid plastics such and plastic totes and lawn furniture
-Glass containers

Recycle Ann Arbor reserves the right to refuse any paint deemed unacceptable or in an unsuitable container. Customers are urged to call ahead with any questions about proper protocol and collection so their on-site visit goes as smoothly as possible.

The Drop-Off Station is regularly open Tuesday and Thursday, 8:30am – 6:30pm, and Saturdays 9:00am – 6:00pm. 734-971-7400. A full listing can be found at: 

Posted by: recycleannarbor | April 7, 2015

Local Profile: “Zero Waste Warriors”

store picts 10-28-13 001_delux drapery

Delux Drapery, located at 2215 W. Stadium Blvd in Ann Arbor, is a family-owned business committed to recycling, reuse and community engagement. We were able to chat with them a bit about their efforts to move their company toward “zero waste.” Here is their story:

At Delux Drapery we take recycling seriously.  We believe that by recycling and repurposing, we are doing our part to help the community and the planet.  Aside from the recycling dumpsters outside our building, we also have receptacles in our back room for paper, plastic, metal and cardboard.  Our kitchen also has a recycling bin for all of the food containers that get brought in by our employees.  Each of our desks has a tray for recycling paper so that there is less chance of items being tossed carelessly.  We also sell several products that include recycled content.

But we don’t just stop there.  We collect items for the Scrap Box of Ann Arbor to pick up.  This includes discontinued fabric, wallpaper books and bubble wrap.  The Scrap Box promotes reuse in a creative way for kids to express themselves with what they find in their warehouse.  So, it’s an easy choice for us to partner with them when we have so much fun stuff to share!

We also have art teachers from local elementary schools come in for fabric and wallpaper books as well.  They always have a creative idea for their students in using our scraps.

At Delux Drapery, we are always looking for a way to avoid throwing things out.  Most of the time, something can be reused, re-purposed or recycled.  We are proud to support Ann Arbor’s zero waste efforts!

Posted by: recycleannarbor | April 6, 2015

“Who Does What” in the Local Solid Waste Universe


Some recent news coverage on contractual and operational issues at the city of Ann Arbor owned materials recovery facility (MRF) created quite a bit of confusion among elected leaders, local media and citizens about who exactly is providing what solid waste services in Ann Arbor.  We understand the dynamics and structure can be confusing at times, so here’s our attempt at setting the record straight:

Recycle Ann Arbor (RAA) is the local, non-profit, environmental service provider founded in 1977 (and subsidiary of the Ecology Center) that is contracted by the City of Ann Arbor to provide residential and multi-family curbside recycling collection services in Ann Arbor; along with curbside-based business recycling services in the community*.  RAA also operates the ReUse Center at 2420 S. Industrial, the Drop-off Station at 2950 E. Ellsworth Road and the Jackson Road Recovery Yard (formerly Calvert’s) at 7891 Jackson Road. *The City of Ann Arbor currently provides service for all recycling dumpsters and the businesses in the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

ReCommunity is a for-profit recycling processor that operates the City of Ann Arbor’s Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and waste transfer station, under a long-term operating agreement.  The Ann Arbor MRF processes not only the recyclables collected from within the City of Ann Arbor, but also materials from the University of Michigan and dozens of other nearby communities.  ReCommunity has 32 recycling facilities in 14 states, processing several hundred thousand tons of recyclables each year with over 1,500 permanent employees, and is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.

We Care Organics is a for-profit compost processor (and organics transportation service) that operates the City of Ann Arbor’s compost site.  The Ann Arbor compost site not only processes organic waste (including food waste) generated by Ann Arbor residents and businesses, but also compostables delivered by individuals, local landscapers, the University of Michigan and other communities.  We Care is headquartered in Jordan, New York and currently operates a dozen compost facilities in the United States, most on the East Coast. The City of Ann Arbor is the hauler (pick-up) for the curbside compost service currently.

Waste Management,the largest for-profit waste services company in North America, collects commercial (business) dumpster waste in Ann Arbor under a franchise collection contract with the City of Ann Arbor.  In addition, its Woodland Meadows Landfill in Canton, Michigan receives all of the non-recyclable/compostable waste processed at the Ann Arbor waste transfer station operated by ReCommunity.  Waste Management is a $14billion/year company with over 42,000 employees headquartered in Houston, Texas.

The Recovery Yard (formerly known as “Calvert’s Roll-Off Containers”) location at 7891 Jackson Rd. will be once again offering a live secure document shredding service starting for the season on Saturday, April 11th, 2015 (9am-12pm). In 2014, this service was able to divert 35,559 lbs of paper from the landfill.

Allshred Services Truck

Allshred Services Truck

The live shredding service is offered at this facility from April-November, but only occurring on the second Saturday of each month from 9am-12pm when the Allshred Services truck is present. Customers can expect to pay $4 per grocery bag and $6 per banker’s box for the service. A grocery bag typically holds around 16lbs of paper. Cash, check, and credit are accepted for this service, but there is a $10.00 minimum for credit transactions. Cash is preferred on-site. If customers do have over twenty boxes to shred, please contact Allshred Services directly at 419-467-2086.

Allshred Services prides itself on taking numerous security steps to assure customers that their documents remain confidential throughout the entire process. Customers can stay on-site to watch the shredding process happen. Once materials are destroyed in the truck, the paper material is transported to Allshred’s secure facility by GPS-tracked trucks. Full information about the process can be found on their website.

Customers who may need service during the week and don’t mind utilizing “lock-boxes” (not live document shredding) can choose Recycle Ann Arbor’s Drop-Off Station (2950 E. Ellsworth Rd.) shredding service. However, there is a $3 entry fee to access this site.

The Recovery Yard also accepts items such as cardboard, metals, and common household recyclables for drop-off recycling during these events – in addition to during the week. Additionally, they specialize in construction and demolition recycling as well as roll-off container rentals. For a full list of services visit their website.

To inquire about Recycle Ann Arbor’s Recovery Yard services, including roll-off container rentals, please call 734-426-2280 directly. This facility is open for recycling drop-off 6 days a week: Monday to Friday, 7:30am – 4:00pm, and Saturdays 8:00am to 2:00pm.

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