Rebound Economy Means Salinians Putting More in Trash

 04/06/2017 - 17:04
Dennis Kittel, chair of the Saline Environmental Commission, speaks to Saline City Council about the city's "green" initiatives.

The economy has rebounded and that means Saline residents are filling their garbage cans..

Saline City Council heard about the activities of the Saline Environmental Commission Monday night when President Dennis Kittel presented commission’s annual report.

The total tonnage of trash and recyclables put out by Saline residents jumped from 2,775 to 3,269 – a 19 percent increase.

“I was surprised when I saw this number. This number mimics a trend across the United States,” Kittel said. “The economy is picking up. People are buying new things and discarding the old things, which went out in the trash.”

Only a small portion of that was from recyclables. Saline recycled 971 tons of goods in 2016, up from 923 in 2015.

Unfortunately, more and more recyclables are ending up with the trash in the landfills.

“The cost of raw materials went down so recyclables didn’t have a market,” Kittel said. “They end up in the landfill.”

Saline’s diversion rate, the percentage of waste diverted from a landfill for recycling, was down from 41.9 percent to 36.1 percent. Diversion rates across the country dropped last year, Kittel said.

“We’re still among the best in Michigan,” Kittel said. “We still have a lot of opportunity to recycle. That’s part of our job, is to let people in Saline know about the ways they can recycle.”

Numbers are still much better than they were in 2010.

Kittel noted that California has a goal of 75 percent diversion next year.

Kittel said hard numbers are difficult to find, but he believes the average diversion rate in Michigan is about 18 percent. Kittel said the average Salinian throws out about 770 pounds of trash a year. A family of four throws out about 3,000 pounds a year.

“That’s just an astonishing number,” he said.

The average person recycles about 242 pounds of goods per year.

WasteManagement, the city’s trash hauler, provides the city with the numbers each year.

The Simple Recycling program, which invites city residents to recycle textiles in a green bag that was distributed to households, collected about 16 tons.

Here are some other facts about the city’s green initiatives:

  • The E-waste Collection event collected 29,000 pounds of E-waste last year, up from 13,000 the year before. This year’s event is at 9 a.m., April 29, at City Hall. This service is provided at no cost.
  • A Washtenaw County event held in Saline collected 21,000 pounds of household waste.
  • Residents deposited 302 pounds of medicine in the Big Red Barrel at the Saline Police Station, up from 292 pounds last year.
  • Residents continue to recycle batteries at City Hall.
  • Two boxes of cell phones were collected at City Hall. The phones were redirected to the armed services.
  • Christmas light recycling increased from 375 to 565 pounds. Lights are dropped off at city hall.
  • 100 markers were placed around storm drains in the city to raise awareness about the way drains impact freshwater streams.
  • In 2017, Kittel is the chairperson of the Environmental Commission. Luke Schmerberg is the vice-chairperson.
Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is owner of The Saline Post. Email him at tran@thesalinepost.com or call him at 734-272-6294

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