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Holland preparing to launch new recycling program

Posted at 6:15 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 21:18:40-05

HOLLAND, Mich.  — Holland is adding another reason as to why it's one of the greenest cities in Michigan.

The city is preparing to launch a new recycling program.

Right now people living in the city use a yellow bag recycling system. Residents place their recyclables in the bag then place it inside or next to the garbage bin for sanitation workers to pick up.

However, last week, the Holland City Council approved a $460,000 bid to switch to a cart-based recycling program.

“The markets have changed,” said Aaron Thelenwood. “If we want to be recycling, it really comes down to three components, being materials being empty, materials being clean, and materials being dry, and as of right now, we can’t deliver on those core components.”

Thelenwood says an analysis of the city’s current program found an up to 75 percent failure rate in the yellow bags at pick up, often leaving the recyclables contaminated and mixed in with the trash. The city is then unable to process and resell the recyclables.

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“Switching to this approach, where the recyclables are completely separated from the system, utilizing a 96-gallon cart, you take that factor out of the equation immediately,” said Thelenwood.

The council’s bid approval pays for 10,000 carts. A $267,646 grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and a $151,856 grant with a $1 per household educational match from The Recycling Partnership will cover the majority of the costs. The rest will come out of the city’s solid waste enterprise fund.

“So excited about this,” said Mayor Nathan Bocks.

Bocks adds the carts’ lids will include information on what can and cannot go in with a QR code that further breaks it down.

The city believe it is also the first lakeshore community to utilize a RFID chip in the bin’s handle, which gives the city data on how much weight each person recycles. Bocks says the goal is to boost participation from its current 51 percent to 75 percent.

“If we find that a resident isn’t participating very well in the recycling program, we’ve got the opportunity to then reach out to that individual user and say, ‘How can we help you? What barriers can we remove?’” said Bocks.

Residents can expect a cart in April 2021. After the recycling system is implemented, the city plans to do the same with its garbage bins. Thelenwood says most of them are already equipped with the RFID chip but not yet activated.

“We’re trying to make the right thing to do, the easy thing to do for the people of Holland,” said Bocks.

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