Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

April 20, 2014

George Weeks: Snyder touts statewide recycling plan

“We’ve been throwing money away for decades.”

— Gov. Rick Snyder in announcing a recycling initiative

In 1976, Michigan voters wisely approved a ten-cent beverage bottle and can deposit plan that was applauded by environmentalists and became popular with consumers who recognized that their efforts to recycle with minor inconvenience have helped clear the countryside of clutter.

Since then, Michigan has faltered on the broader issue of recycling.

Now comes Gov. Rick Snyder, who upon last week releasing a laudable plan to boost recycling of household solid waste, said:

“Michigan has a strong tradition of protecting and enhancing its environment. But when it comes to recycling, we must do better. Michigan trails other Great Lakes states and much of the nation in residential recycling. It’s a complex challenge but one that we can address. This plan puts us on the right path.”

The recent path has been shaky. Michigan’s recycling rate is about 15 percent. The national average is 35 percent. Snyder said that a recent study concluded more than $435 million in recyclable metal, glass, paper and plastics goes from Michigan households to state landfills each year.

As Snyder told the Associated Press: “It’s time to reclaim our leadership position.” His plan is especially timely, coming shortly before the April 22 observance of Earth Day.

In his announcement, Snyder said: “States with healthy recycling programs have found that, in addition to reducing pressure on landfills and helping the environment, recycling creates jobs and opens markets for recovered materials.

“We’ve been throwing money away for decades. Addressing this issue is simply the right thing to do, and I am pleased to announce we are committed to making Michigan a recylcing leader.”

To do this, Snyder outlined a 15-point plan that includes a benchmark process to document progress of the state’s effort; public education and technical aid for communities; provide convenient access at the local level; and develop markets for recycled products “with grants and other economic incentitives.”

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