This fall, The City of East Lansing will be implementing several improvements to the recycling programs available to residents. These changes are being funded through two grant awards from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and create more opportunities for residents to recycle and take part in East Lansing’s communal effort to reduce waste.
Some of the funds from these grants will be allocated to adding Styrofoam as a recyclable material in East Lansing. While it will not be available as part of the curbside recycling program, Styrofoam recycling stations will be built at three different locations across town: The East Lansing Family Aquatic Center, the East Lansing Softball Complex, and the East Lansing Department of Public Works’ drop-off recycling site, located at 1800 E. State Road. [CORRECTION: while recycling will be expanded at the Aquatic Center and Softball Complex, Styrofoam dropoff will be offered ONLY at the East Lansing Department of Public Works.]
Residents have identified Styrofoam as a material they would like to be able to recycle, reports Cathy DeShambo, Environmental Services Administrator at the East Lansing Department of Public Works. Styrofoam is found in disposable coffee cups, coolers, cushioning material in packaging, and is often used for take-away containers at various restaurants in East Lansing.
According to DeShambo, the material is mistakenly put into curbside bins and left for the City to sort out, and other residents save their Styrofoam for the annual Recycle! East Lansing event, where a whopping number of Styrofoam pieces are collected every year.
These changes are part of a continuous effort by the City of East Lansing to improve recycling opportunities for residents and achieve the goals of East Lansing’s “Climate Sustainability Plan,” one of which is waste reduction. Two years ago, improvements to curbside recycling made a huge impact on these efforts. According to DeShambo, this program increased the monthly tonnage of recycled materials from 50 tons per month to nearly 130 tons per month. “We have more residents participating and our collection is so much more efficient. Most importantly, residents tell us they love the program,” says DeShambo.
In addition to this improvement, the City will utilize these grants to increase recycling opportunities for large multi-family properties and to design new outreach and education materials in order to increase participation and reach out to new residents. “We try to approach outreach and education through multiple methods- social media, print, digital,” explained DeShambo, “Our community is diverse and we are always looking for ways for our messages to reach individuals.”
Enhancing programs for multi-family recycling will be more challenging, but the City has a subcommittee of the Commission on the Environment working to research solutions through interviews with property managers, haulers, and students.