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July 30, 2019

Michigan unveils statewide recycling education campaign

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), Lansing, Michigan, has launched Know It Before You Throw It, its first statewide recycling education campaign.

EGLE’s goal is to promote awareness of better recycling practices and to reduce the amount of contaminated materials being placed into recycling bins. The state also wants to double Michigan’s recycling rate to 30 percent by 2025 and ultimately reach 45 percent annually. Michigan’s current 15 percent recycling rate is the lowest in the Great Lakes region and ranks among the nation’s lowest, EGLE says.

“We want to inform and inspire more people than ever before in Michigan about how to recycle better,” says EGLE Materials Management Division Director Jack Schinderle. “This campaign is a first of its kind for Michigan that offers multiple benefits. Increasing recycling and improving the quality of materials we’re recycling saves energy, reduces water use, decreases greenhouse gases, conserves resources and translates into local jobs.”

State legislators have increased EGLE’s recycling funding from $2 million last year to $15 million in 2019, according to a news release from EGLE. The extra funds will support recycling markets development, increase access to recycling opportunities and reinforce planning efforts to grow recycling at the local level.

To kick off the campaign, EGLE introduced the Michigan Recycling Raccoon Squad, a six-member team of recycling champions who serve as EGLE’s education ambassadors.

EGLE research shows that education is key for residents to learn how to properly recycle. Fifty percent of Michigan residents mistakenly believe they’re allowed to recycle plastic bags curbside, which is prohibited by most municipalities. Seventy-six percent of Michigan residents are unaware that failing to rinse and dry items before putting them in the recycling bin poses a risk of contaminating everything in the bin.