The city of Ann Arbor wants to save the world, one recycled cardboard box at a time. Right now, one of the biggest obstacles preventing Ann Arbor from being the environmental savior it wants to be are private businesses’ low recycling rates. But a new city proposal will make recycling easier and cheaper for private businesses in Ann Arbor. Viewed alongside other efforts to increase recycling in the city and on campus, this proposal is just another example of Ann Arbor’s efforts to stay at the forefront of recycling, and the city should swiftly adopt it.

The city of Ann Arbor is expected to finalize a plan later this month that will overhaul the way that businesses in Ann Arbor recycle and dump trash. Under the proposal, the city government will contract a single company to remove trash for all city businesses. This would make it cheaper for business owners to recycle paper, cardboard and plastic, rather than just throwing these things in the garbage. And though the city doesn’t expect to save any money with the new program, the lack of financial benefits are less important than the community’s commitment to protecting the environment.

It’s a needed measure, especially considering the vast discrepancy between how much Ann Arbor residents and businesses recycle. Residential recycling rates are above 50 percent, which means 50 percent of waste produced is being recycled or composted. Commercial diversion rates, however, are stalled at a 20 percent. With this new plan, the city could easily reach its 50 percent goal for businesses.

Some business owners have expressed concerns about the decreased availability of recycling options the new policy will cause. But that’s a weak argument. Instead of expanding options, the city is focusing on cost. As the city increases the ease of recycling, the garbage output of businesses will decrease. That means businesses won’t have to pay as much for trash removal. The city, for its part, needs to make sure they choose a responsible company to handle the recycling.

But more important than the economic benefits for businesses are the environmental benefits. Recycling saves trees and decreases the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. In light of that, City Council should move quickly to approve and implement the new rule.

Students are taking an active interest in recycling, too. Last month, LSA freshman Alex Levine introduced a proposal to City Council to make No. 6 plastic cups — like the red ones littering frat house lawns — recyclable. Unfortunately, Levine’s proposal hasn’t made much headway because, though the idea has come up before, the city hasn’t been able to find the necessary resources to expand the list of items that can be recycled. As City Council implements its new recycling program, now is a perfect time to step up the search for options to make Ann Arbor more green.

Ann Arbor is known for its efforts to help the environment, and the city should be taking active steps to earn that reputation. No matter who’s paying for it, that cardboard box is more useful to the world at a recycling plant than it is sitting in a landfill.

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