- Ann Arbor, MI is considering proposals from Waste Management, Emterra Environmental and Recycle Ann Arbor to run the city's material recovery facility next year. The city staff plans to make a recommendation soon and the City Council could vote on a contract by January, as reported by MLive.
- Waste Management has been temporarily operating the facility since the city fired ReCommunity earlier this summer. Due to the need for potential repairs to conveyor equipment, unsorted material is currently being baled at the MRF and transported to Akron, OH or Saginaw, MI for processing.
- The city plans to issue a new request for proposals in the spring of 2017 with the goal of finalizing a long-term contract by the end of the year.
The city's abrupt decision to end its relationship with ReCommunity has been contentious with threats of legal action and a debate over reimbursement for the installation of a new baler. The environmental concerns that were raised when Waste Management was selected have evolved into questions about whether baling the unsorted material is reducing its value.
While the argument has been made that baling the materials is more efficient for transportation, and thus reduces greenhouse emissions, the ideal solution would be to get the MRF running again. ReCommunity had been operating the facility right up to the end but officials now say the equipment may be unsafe. Until an assessment is completed by Waste Management, the city won't know the extent of repairs needed or how long they will take.
Getting operations back to normal is in Ann Arbor's best interest as the city prides itself on recycling efforts and is looking for new ways to increase its diversion rate. The facility transition has affected other local municipalities as well. All are now part of a push to double the state's recycling rate to 30%.