Increase in recycling charges reduces drop-offs by half

HOUGHTON — A recent $4 per vehicle charge to recycle has many residents in Houghton County asking what can be done to keep those items from ending up in landfills. One group of researchers at Michigan Tech say they have the answer. ABC 10’s Keweenaw Bureau Reporter Rick Allen.

When Waste Management began charging $4 per vehicle to drop off recyclables at their center in Houghton, some say the amount of items brought to the center dropped by as much as 50 percent.

So what are Houghton residents supposed to do? A team from Michigan Tech says, do what Hancock does.

Zoë Coombs, an Energy & Environmental Policy Major from Michigan Tech said, “We’re hoping to show Houghton that they can, in fact, implement a curbside recycling program, especially within the city of Houghton, and have that be cost–effective and because of that $4 charge, that’s where a lot of this push for looking at everything and looking at different programs came from.”

The students gave a presentation at the Portage Lake District Library to a packed room of concerned residents. Curbside recycling was just one of the suggestions by the team.

Coombs said, “There are ways to reduce the overall waste stream to increase recycling. There are also multiple reuse options, not simply recycling and waste in landfills and that there are other companies that are interested in coming up here and getting involved in the recycling and reducing and reusing of waste materials and we don’t necessarily have to just keep doing the same thing that we’ve been doing.”

The project was inspired by members of the Copper Country Recycling Initiative. The full report is available by following the link.