First Waste Reduction Drive in Houghton sees good turnout from community

Published: Jun. 27, 2020 at 6:11 PM EDT
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More than 100 cars drove into parking lot 24 in Houghton Saturday to drop off bags or boxes full of no more than five designated items for the Keweenaw's first Waste Reduction Drive.

"Those five items are plastic bottle caps and rings, any plastic bag with a recycling number, egg cartons, foil line granola bar wrappers and alkaline batteries,” said Rose Turner, MTU Sustainability Demonstration House Coordinator

Since February, Michigan Tech's Sustainability Demonstration House and the Alternative Energy Enterprise asked people to collect these five commonly used items ahead of their previously scheduled drive for earth week.

But due to COVID-19, organizers delayed the event until Saturday, where they say the set back didn't stop their flow of traffic.

"People are actually segregating their waste already. What they need now is the correct platform where they can deliver it, and how they can do it,” said Shardul Tiwari, a volunteer at the drive.

And that's what event organizers are helping the community do.

Turner says these five items can't be recycled curbside in Houghton so the Demonstration House found ways to reuse or recycle them.

"The foil-line granola bar wrappers are going to be sent to Teracycle where they will be melted down into a hard plastic to be used for manufacturing,” explained Turner. “The egg cartons are going to be give to local chicken farmers to be reused."

While the bottle caps and rings will be go to Preserve, an American sustainable consumer goods company, for kitchenware and toothbrushes.

Remy Battery in Houghton will recycle the alkaline batteries and plastic bags, with help from Walmart’s plastic bags recycling program.

"I really think this is what we all should be working towards,” said Tiwari.

Organizers are hopeful they'll host a similar event next year collecting the same five items or a set of different ones.