- For the past few months, researchers have been digging through Muskegon, Kent, and Ottawa county landfills in an state-funded effort called the "Trash Research Project." The goal of the project is to determine just how much recyclable material is being deposited into Michigan's solid waste stream.
- Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality is funding the effort, and has estimated that there is about $435 million of recyclable metal, glass, paper and plastics in the landfills. Findings from the project will determine if this number is accurate.
- Once the sorting is completed, the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will issue a report using data from the project. Following the report, Grand Valley State University will develop an analysis detailing the economic benefits that the state and local communities would experience if they were to increase recycling efforts.
In an effort to double Michigan’s 15% recycling rate by 2016, Gov. Rick Snyder appointed a 9-member Michigan Recycling Council, which is overlooking the project. The goal of the Council is to bring Michigan's recycling rate up to speed with the national recycling rate, which is an average of 34.3%, according to a 2013 report.
These sustainability efforts in Michigan have been reflected in many locations nationwide, including Boston, where recycling has improved by 12% in the last year. As more cities and states fund projects such as Michigan's Trash Research Project, the nation will see both environmental and economical rewards.