- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, during his last state of the state address, said his attempts to double the state's recycling rate was "one of the most disappointing initiatives" of his time in office. The existing deposit law, he said, may have made the state complacent and allowed it to fall "behind."
- In addition to its annual $6 million commitment to recycling, Michigan needs an additional $27 million to meet its recycling goals of doubling its recycling rate, as reported by The Herald-Palladium. The state's current rate is estimated to be 15%.
- State officials have retained a public relations firm to start an education campaign for Michigan residents. Officials also said there's an initiative to "lead by example" by increasing recycling accessibility in state offices, parks and rest stops.
Snyder's admitted disappointment comes after the state poured resources and time into recycling, through reports, studies and advisory panels. While using his final state of the state address to signal boost recycling is significant for drawing attention to the issue, it is yet unclear if it will be enough, coupled with the new investment in education campaigns, to boost recycling numbers.
Katie Venechuk, a waste minimization specialist for the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), told The Herald-Palladium that Michigan residents dispose 49 billion cubic yards of material each year. About 40% of those materials are recyclable and 35% are compostable, but do not get diverted.
"We have to do more, it's for our own good, and it's for the well-being of our society and our world," Snyder said.
If Michigan is going to work to improve its recycling rate, it must also work to ensure high-quality recycling — on both the consumer and the business level. While the state has so far managed to avoid feeling heavy hits from China's scrap import restrictions, there are no guarantees that, as new standards and bans come into effect, effects will remain minimal.
Some in the state are hopeful that the restrictions from China could jumpstart domestic industry. Matt Flechter, a DEQ specialist in recycling in market development, said China's stringent rules could keep plastic and other material in the U.S. to be used in manufacturing rather than shipped abroad.