TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse County's Resource Recovery department partnered with Cherry Capital Airport to increase the airport's recycling rates.

Resource Recovery had $3,000 to spend on recycling bins for the airport's public and office spaces.

Airport Director Kevin Klein called the progress a culture change, one that required lots of training for airport staff and tenants, which include airlines and rental car companies.

"What the public sees are the bins, but what the rest of the airport saw was a 3-, 4-month-long program," he said.

All of the airport's waste used to be put in trash receptacles then sorted when it reached American Waste's facilities, said Susan Shipman, Resource Recovery manager. Sorting that waste into recycling and trash bins at the airport increases the value of the recyclable material.

Shipman hopes to immediately see 50 percent of airport waste go in the recycling bin, a figure she said could bump to 70 or 80 percent in time.

Klein said a lot of the waste items generated by passengers are recyclable.

"They're water bottles, they're the soda cans," he said. "We also see a lot of newspapers, magazines, books."

Waste metals and fluids generated by the airport's maintenance department are also recycled.

Shipman said the effort was spurred by a recycling initiative Gov. Rick Snyder announced in April 2014, when Michigan residential recycling rates rested at about 15 percent.

"Projects like this are only going to help boost that recycling portion and increase that rate," Shipman said. "We're leaping ahead, going forward with public space recycling."

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