Going green could soon be easier in Ann Arbor. Under the current city recycling program, items need to be sorted into separate bins and many would-be-recyclables aren’t accepted. But a partnership between the city of Ann Arbor and the non-profit organization Recycle Ann Arbor promises to spur a much-needed revamp of the city’s recycling system. Recycling is a relatively easy way to save the planet — but it could be even easier if steps were taken to streamline the system and make more items recyclable. Ann Arbor authorities should continue to expand the range of recyclable materials and reform the recycling process.
The city of Ann Arbor is now partnering with Recycle Ann Arbor to streamline the city’s recycling system and increase awareness about recycling. Ann Arbor currently uses a two-stream method for its recycling. Paper and cardboard products must be separated from metal, glass and plastic. Under the new initiative, the city will switch to a single-stream system this summer in which all recyclables will be collected together.
Officials say the reforms will make recycling more efficient and allow for a greater array of items to be recycled, including types of plastic that previously weren’t recyclable in the city. Currently, only numbers one and two plastics are accepted in the city. In addition, the new partnership aims to increase education and awareness around recycling.
The city is right to make recycling a priority. Aside from environmental benefits like reduction of pollution and conservation of resources, recycling also combats global warming. Materials often generate greenhouse gases both when they are made and when they decompose in landfills.
Because recycling is important for keeping the planet’s environment healthy, the city should do everything it can to encourage residents and students to fill their recycling bins. One of the best ways of doing that is to make the process easier. About 94 percent of Ann Arbor residents currently recycle at the curb, according to Recycle Ann Arbor. Making the process easier could increase that percentage. There should be no sorting, no hassle and no reason not to recycle.
But ease of recycling isn’t as important as range. Though the city currently recycles 52 percent of its residential waste stream, according to Recycle Ann Arbor, it should expand its recycling capabilities to include all types of plastic. The mountains of red cups that litter students’ lawns and houses — which are marked No. 6 plastics — have been non-recyclable in the city. The new recycling program should accept these kinds of plastics, which would increase the volume of recycled material in the city and reduce waste. Michigan State University accepts plastics numbered up to seven. As painful as it is for University of Michigan students to hear, Ann Arbor should follow MSU’s example and recycle all types of plastics.
Ann Arbor has a reputation as a green city — so it’s unacceptable that recycling is difficult and limited. If the city stays true to its promise to increase the public’s knowledge about recycling, residents will have no excuse for throwing out recyclable materials.