Single stream recycling will help citizens develop new waste habits

 by Cynthia Price

Legal News
Apparently, “single stream” recycling is an idea whose time has come.
Kent County started a program officially on August 2, narrowly beating City of Ann Arbor’s Sept. 1 opening. Lansing is considering how to move to single stream within the next two months, possibly through utilizing Ann Arbor’s unused capacity.
What is single stream, and what are the advantages?
Surveys show consistently that a significant factor in residential recycling is the time it takes to sort items, along with uncertainty about how waste haulers need them sorted.
With single stream, all recyclable materials may be placed in one receptacle and a large, multi-component machine, assisted by workers, sorts them into categories based on their potential resale.
In the case of Kent County, the new Recycling and Education Center also replaced an outdated system which took much longer to segregate the recyclable items properly.
As implied by its name, the center — which was built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards — will also function as a place to learn about recycling. For example, the Kent County Department of Public Works has developed a fact sheet on what any given recyclable might become. Newspapers can be made into insulation or cat litter; wine bottles become paving material.
At a grand opening reception Aug. 20, all three officers of the Board of Public Works spoke. Chair and long-time County Commissioner Arthur Tanis has been a vocal proponent of increased recycling, and Vice-chair Ted Vonk, also a county commissioner, welcomed the center and the opportunity for cooperation with City of Grand Rapids. Mayor George Heartwell spoke, and also was acknowledged for assistance in providing a suitable site at 977 Wealthy S.W.
Board of Public Works Secretary Bill Byl, who has a seat on the board due to being the Drain Commissioner, honored a Calvin College professor instrumental in the startup of residential recycling in the 1960s. Prof. James Bosscher challenged his engineering students to develop ideas for recycling, some of which are incorporated in the current machine.
Grand Rapids has just announced a program called My GRCity Points where residents will get credit for recycling, made possible by an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip unique to each residence’s recycling container. Partnering with the non-profit Local First, the City will offer discounts at local businesses in return for recycling or volunteering. Visit  http://www.