Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority authorizes construction of single-stream recycling facility, glass repurposing facility

Published: Aug. 8, 2019 at 3:44 PM EDT
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Recently, the Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority authorized the construction of a new single-stream recycling facility. The nearly $6.3 million facility will be paid for with funds from loans, as well as a grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

At the new facility they will be able to process cardboard, paper, and plastic all together. Currently, they recycle with a dual stream method. The new plant would make things easier for customers, and even extend the life of the landfill.

“I think from a residential stand point, the ability to put all of your materials into one bin is probably one of the biggest changes that we'll see,” said Brad Austin, director of the MCSWMA.

Nearly two years ago, Austin announced the Authority would no longer be accepting glass as a recyclable material. They have been looking for a way to be able to take in and re-purpose glass since then. Now, a solution is finally in place--an adjacent facility.

Public outcry was harsh when the Marquette County Solid Waste Authority stopped accepting glass recycling, but under the current system, the practice wasn't feasible.

"Prior to this project coming on, we were not managing it effectively and it was ending up in our landfill,” said Austin. “So this program allows for us to process it and re-purpose it more locally."

In the new facility, glass will be crushed into two different types of material. The Authority is still exploring options for where that material will then go. Current options include Michigan Technological University, or even local road commissions for use in gravel.

"Market development is a part of the next 12 months. We've been working hard over the last 6 months to develop these markets," said Austin.

While recyclables will be a simple solution, re-purposing glass has a few extra steps, including the separate building.

"In order for us to create a product that we can re-purpose, that material needs to be source separated, so you're going to be able to place your cardboard, your mixed paper, your plastic and metals curbside, and the glass is going to be an option for municipalities," said Austin.

Those municipalities could opt for a curb side pick-up system, a designated collection site, or just leave it up to customers to make the trip out to the facility themselves.

“Collection improves the recycling in itself,” said Marquette City Manager Mike Angeli. “More people will recycle if we pick it up. So what we're looking at is something in our schedule that will accommodate that."

The authority will be focusing efforts over the next year on increased participation, as well as education for proper recycling. The new facilities are expected to be online sometime in 2020.