New Michigan Recycling Council has Kent County voice

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 Michigan is lagging behind the national average when it comes to household recycling. Governor Rick Snyder is working to change that, and has selected a Kent County leader in recycling to be a part of his team. Doug Wood, Director of Kent County Department of Public Works, will represent governments and regions on the nine-member Michigan Recycling Council, and work to implement a plan to increase residential recycling statewide. 

According to Gov. Snyder’s office, the Michigan recycling rate for residential household waste is about 15%, compared to35% nationally. It is estimated that over $435 million in recyclable metal, glass, paper and plastics goes to Michigan landfills each year. 
 
“This should be viewed as environmental sustainability,” says Wood. “We as a state have been missing out on job opportunities and business growth.  This plan will help with logistics.”  

Wood sees this plan as an opportunity to help bridge the generation gap when it comes to recycling. “At the Kent County Recycling and Education Center, we see kids who understand the importance of recycling more than adults,” says Wood.  “Some people just think about getting rid of garbage. We have to educate, and change the approach we take to collecting.” Nearly fifty stakeholders worked over the past year to formulate a Michigan Recycling Agenda.  The 15-point plan focuses on four key areas: 

—Benchmark and measure progress – better tracking of Michigan’s recycling rate and documenting progress;

—Public education and technical assistance for communities –an informed and supportive public is key to increasing recycling, along with tools for local governments to develop local programs.

—Provide convenient access – successful programs feature convenient access at the local level.

—Develop markets – stimulation of market opportunities for recycled products will be addressed with grants and other economic incentives.
Wood, who was appointed for a two-year term, says there is a need to get rural communities more involved. “Everyone should have the option to recycle,” he adds. “There are still a few issues we need to address, but this council is a step in the right direction.”