2020 Newsmaker of the Year: City puts feet on the street to improve recycling program

335
James Hurt Courtesy James Hurt

CATEGORY: Sustainability

WINNER: James Hurt

ORGANIZATION: City of Grand Rapids

The city of Grand Rapids in 2020 partnered with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and national nonprofit The Recycling Partnership to introduce a communitywide project aimed at improving the quality of materials residents recycle in their curbside carts.

The city launched The Recycling Partnership’s Feet on the Street cart-tagging recycling campaign in mid-September with communitywide education and outreach initiatives continuing through mid-November.

Over the past few years, the city saw a 12% to 15% increase in the number of contaminated recyclables in bins throughout Grand Rapids. Placing nonrecyclables in the recycling cart means haulers are forced to redirect loads containing too many nonrecyclables to the Kent County Waste to Energy Facility.

The Feet on the Street program was designed to increase the number of items accepted for recycling that are clean, empty and dry. Achieving the quality standard in recycled materials ensures they can circulate back in the recycling system to become new products or packaging while also reducing the number of nonrecyclables in recycling bins.

Feet on the Street also helps communities achieve economically efficient recycling programs, reduces the number of new resources used in packaging by providing more recycled content for new products and improves the cleanliness of communities.

The effort by the city was aimed at improving the quality of recycling in single-stream curbside recycling bins by providing Grand Rapids’ roughly 55,000 households with personalized and real-time curbside recycling education and feedback. The city provided a $15,000 matching grant to support the campaign.

“Recycling is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do, and this program furthers our strategic priority of health and environment,” said James Hurt, Grand Rapids managing director of public services. “This helps us minimize waste generation and promote waste diversion practices by improving the quality and amount of recycling we collect.”

Click here to read about the other winners of the 2020 Newsmakers of the Year.

Facebook Comments