Ann Arbor, MI decides MRF can't be repaired, considers regional solution
- Officials in Ann Arbor, MI have made the assessment that repairing the city's material recovery facility is not "economically feasible" and are now considering regional solutions, as reported by MLive.
- The facility hasn't been working since last summer, but until now the expectation had been that it could be made operational again. Waste Management has been handling the city's recyclables on an interim basis since July 2016, and will continue to do so until July 2017, until an agreement with local nonprofit Recycle Ann Arbor can be finalized.
- Recycle Ann Arbor plans to send loose, unsorted recyclables to Rumpke's MRF in Cincinnati and this contract could potentially run into 2018. The city is still working with consultant CB&I to assess their options and figure out how to structure a request for longer-term proposals. Private contracts, public-private partnerships or the development of a regional authority are all on the table.
Ann Arbor's MRF originally opened in 1995, and made the conversion to single-stream in 2010, but began experiencing multiple maintenance issues in recent years. After criticizing ReCommunity's operation of the facility, the city terminated its contract with them last July, ahead of schedule, and recycling plans have been up in the air ever since. Waste Management was brought in shortly after and is currently exporting baled, unsorted recyclables to other MRFs in the region.
The program's open-ended future coincides with a larger discussion about how to improve recycling systems statewide. Governor Rick Snyder has set a goal of doubling Michigan's diversion rate to 30% and multiple reports were recently released offering solutions on how to get there. Among these findings was the need for millions of dollars in new infrastructure investments, so it's possible that Ann Arbor could become a priority in this larger discussion.
Groups such as the Closed Loop Fund have also been very active with investments in projects that have regional benefits, as highlighted in a recent case study about one Iowa county's MRF upgrade. As Ann Arbor explores its options there could be the potential to attract both state and private funding for a proposal that offered new recycling solutions for the greater area.
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