Plans would revamp recycling programs

New plans would create "redemption centers" to offer another place to return bottles and cans besides grocery stores.

When it comes to recycling pop cans and bottles, Michigan residents return an estimated 97 percent of containers covered by law, according to the Michigan Recycling Coalition.

Now, leaders want to boost the numbers associated with all recyclable waste. Fourteen percent of solid waste generated in the state is recycled. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts the national average at 34 percent.

When it comes to recycling, convenience is a large factor.

â??We're just starting this process, but the broad goal is to make recycling easier for Michigan families,â?? explained Brad Wurfel, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Quality.

For families making changes, it can take time to adjust to the recycling practices.

â??We have one for recycling and one for ordinary garbage,â?? said Patrick Fragel, a Traverse City resident. â??I'm learning how to use that. It's taking some time to adapt. It's a habit you have to get into. It's not a different one, but after years and years of throwing all garbage in one spot it takes a little while to change.â??

The Department of Environmental Quality is looking to boost Michigan's recycling rates by revamping the state's beverage container deposit law. They are not, however, trying to eliminate the deposit.

â??We like to believe that in Michigan we have the great lakes, we have a lot great natural resources, and there's a shared philosophical interest in the people who live, work, play, and love this state who will do more if it's convenient,â?? said Wurfel.

The plan suggests creating â??redemption centers,â?? a place where people could drop off all recyclable materials, including bottles and pop cans.

â??That would get the bottles out of the store. There's a health risk with that because you never know what could be in those bottles. Anyone who's been in a grocery store redemption center understands what I mean,â?? said Wurfel.

People have many reasons for doing their part when it comes to recycling.

â??I'm of the generation, we just came up having to recycle everything,â?? said Megan Schrider, a Traverse City resident. â??My parents always recycled. I'm just in the habit of it.â??

John Krupp of Traverse City said he does not like seeing things go into the landfill that do not need to be there. â??If we can pull it out of there and do something with it, so much the better.â??

Michiganâ??s deposit law was put in place in 1976 to give people an incentive not to litter.