According to the EPA, in 2010, Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash and recycled materials, while composting over 85 million tons of material. Environmental sustainability and responsible resource use are important political and urban planning topics. A study conducted by the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor revealed that Detroit is the only major city without a city-wide recycling program. But Detroiters don’t intended to settle on a 10.5% recycling rate, when the national average is 32%.
In 2005, Recycle Here! responded to the city’s need for recycling facilities. “What began as a grassroots, neighborhood, recycling event has evolved into a city-wide, fully-funded neighborhood recycling program” offering:
- Mobile recycling locations;
- Pick-up recycling services;
- E-waste (electronics) recycling ;
- Environmental educational with the Green Living Science initiative;
- And a mascot named, Bee Green.
Zero Waste Detroit (ZWD) has been leading the environmental policy charge since 2007, bringing the issue of responsible waste management in front of the City Council and the Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Authority (GDRRA). The ZWD coalition represents the values of several local environmental non-profits, including: Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, and Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
With the pressure on, the city of Detroit opened a recycling center operated by Waste Management in 2009. Soon after, Detroit initiated a $3.8 million pilot curbside program to assess the feasibility of city-wide recycling pick-up.
Is there room in the budget? A new report states increasing recycling rates could create crucial jobs. Not sexy enough for you? Until recently, gardening, bicycling, and sewing weren’t either. That’s the power of successful marketing and social media.
City-wide recycling and alterative energy, public transit and LEED certified buildings, what else must Detroit prioritize if it wants to make the greenest cities list?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.