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[MIDTOWN] Citywide single stream recycling coming to a curb near you!

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

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At the Midtown Neighborhood Association's latest board meeting on Monday night, Barbara Small from the City of Grand Rapids' sanitation division made a guest appearance to update us about changes to recycling in the neighborhood.

The City has recently committed to single stream recycling, so residents who currently recycle won't have to separate paper from glass and glass from plastic. Bins will no longer be part of the recycling program. Instead, the City will soon begin distributing carts where all recycling can be placed. The carts will come in 35, 64 and 96 gallon sizes. Anyone currently registered with the recycling program will receive a card in the mail due back to the City by July 6 on their size preference; the default size if the City doesn't hear back is 64 gallons.

The cool stuff

  • Each cart will have a radio frequency ID tag that's specific to your house. You won't have to label carts with your address, and if the cart gets lost, the city will be able to track it. One of the advantages of having radio frequency ID tags is that the city can graph out patterns if recycling pick-up is late and figure out why. Setting up this infrastructure will also allow the city to map how much each neighborhood recycles.
  • Each cart is made up of 40% recycled materials. While all the recycling bins we now have will be traded in for carts, Cascade Engineering will be recycling those very bins into the carts they send back out. That 40% will rise as more bins are collected and repurposed.
  • The current recycling center can process 15 tons of recycling per day. The new recycling center will be able to process 18 tons an hour.

Tips for easy pick-up (7 a.m. every other Wednesday)

  • Don't overfill the bins! Make sure the lid is flush because city employees technically aren't allowed to take bins that are brimming with waste.
  • If you shred your documents, make sure to bag those; they're the only things that need to be bagged.
  • Phone books will now be recyclable, although batteries are not.
  • During the winter, make sure there is a clean area for the carts. Carts sitting atop snow banks will not be picked up.

So why pitch in and recycle? Besides the geekery involved in radio frequency ID tags and warm fuzzies from saving the world one glass bottle at a time, it saves the city money. Every piece of trash must be incinerated, and that comes with a per-pound price tag.

If you're not signed up yet or would like more information, check out the single stream recycling program's Website.


Compiled by Denise Cheng, MNA board member

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I am really excited about this - and I am glad to realize that it's not just coming to Midtown! 

Though with the deadline coming up so soon, I am worried that I've already already missed my mail card...

I also wonder how this will change my recycling habits because a 96-gallon-sized cart will be super annoying to carry up to my second floor apartment.

That's a good question, George! I'm curious myself, come to think of it. Will apartment complexes get multiple carts to share or will each apartment unit get its own?

also, will individual recyclers be able to track their recyclin' stats with all that RFID business?