- Kalamazoo, MI is preparing residents for the switch to single-stream recycling with an open house this week and the planned delivery of new 96-gallon carts in early September, as reported by MLive. The opt-in service, provided by Republic Services, will take effect Oct. 1.
- The Kalamazoo City Commission awarded Republic a 10-year, $4.6 million contract last month. Based on a change to biweekly recycling collection, and moving away from open 18-gallon bins, the city expects to save an estimated $300,000 annually.
- Recyclables are currently being mixed on some routes anyway, because Republic doesn't have enough dual-bin trucks in its local fleet, as reported by WMUK. Around 800 to 1,000 tons of material are currently collected from participating households each year, and the city estimates that tonnage could increase by 25%.
Neighboring municipalities that have already made the switch to single-stream saw the expected tonnage increases, adding further incentive for Kalamazoo to pursue the change. Republic was one of two bidders that responded to Kalamzoo's May solicitation and the decision was finalized at the City Commission's July 17 meeting. Best Way Disposal also submitted a bid for $6.2 million.
Kalamazoo is the latest to join a growing list of single-stream cities around the country, and is a somewhat late adopter of the cart system. Portland, ME is another recent example of a city that ditched open bins and switched to single-stream at the same time. This already prompted the usual concerns about contamination that often come with single-stream, though the expected volume increase is being portrayed as an overall net positive for the city.
Recycling progress of any kind is seen as helpful in Michigan, which has one of the lowest state diversion rates in the country. An estimated $368 million worth of recyclable material is currently sent to landfills or waste-to-energy facilities every year. Gov. Rick Snyder set a 30% diversion goal in 2014 and has established working groups to develop a plan for achieving it. Multiple reports were released earlier this year that outlined the need for more investment in recycling infrastructure — and highlighted the potential to capture an additional 1 million tons of new material per year.