TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse County residents are recycling more and throwing away less refuse, according to a county report.
Residential, commercial and industrial customers recycled roughly 11,700 tons of material in 2012, an increase of more than 1,800 tons from the previous year, a report from the county’s Resource Recovery Department states.
The county also sent nearly 16,000 less tons of solid waste to Michigan landfills in 2012 than it did in 2011.
“I’d say kudos to the residents of Grand Traverse County, because they are the ones making this happen,” said Kim Elliott, Resource Recovery Department marketing/education specialist.
Elliott and Resource Recovery Manager Bob Osterhout comprise the county’s two-person Resource Recovery Department, which reported a net revenue of about $58,000 in 2012.
Osterhout attributed the recycling growth to increased education efforts, 96-gallon recycling containers and single-stream recycling, which allows residents to recycle without separating different materials.
Different recyclables are now sorted at American Waste’s Hughes Drive recycling center in Traverse City. The Kalkaska-based company also supplies the 96-gallon recycling containers to residents in an effort to make recycling as easy as possible.
“The easier it is on the residents, the more likely they are to recycle products,” said Eddie Ascione, who owns American Waste with his brother Mike.
County recycling volumes hovered around 10,000 tons annually between 2007 and 2011 before the uptick this year.
Solid waste levels in the county fell steadily from nearly 82,000 tons annually in 2007 to about 67,500 in 2010. That number spiked in 2011 to almost 85,000 tons due to a small number of large construction and demolition jobs, Osterhout said. Solid waste levels in 2012 dropped back to about 69,000 tons.
Data from the first quarter of 2013 suggest recycling levels will continue to increase, which is key to keeping solid waste tonnages low as construction projects pick up along with the economy, Osterhout said.
“Hopefully that trend will continue,” Osterhout said.
Solid waste from Grand Traverse County is deposited in landfills in Manistee, Leelanau, Crawford and Wexford counties.