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Area one step closer to single-stream recycling

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority has begun the first phase of construction in its switch from a dual-stream recycling system to a single-stream system.

This work has consisted mostly of the demolition of areas in existing facilities, explained Brad Austin, director of operations with the MCSWMA. The challenge thus far has been balancing construction while continuing current operations, he added.

Demolition will continue “from now until roughly the beginning of August, and then we move into the equipment installation phase which will start right around the beginning of August,” Austin said. “The equipment will be installed tentatively by the middle of September, at that point we’ll try the wet and dry test runs of the equipment probably mid to third week in September and then online in October.”

During the equipment installation phase of the project, there will be a period where operations will have to be shut down, Austin said. The authority has been working with private haulers and others to manage that when it occurs, he added.

A flyer will be sent out to residents to inform them of proper recycling habits for the new system.

“(We’re) planning this out so that residents are warned in enough time that they can start to transition from dual- to single-stream but not too early because we don’t have the equipment capabilities to process that single-stream material right now,” Austin said. “(What we) tentatively anticipate is probably a changeover on the residential side somewhere in mid-summer to late summer. Prior to doing that, we will have direct mail going to residents on what can and cannot be placed curbside in the new program.”

The MCSWMA has also been increasing its outreach to other counties to involve them in the regional single-stream and glass processing facility.

“The facility has been built as a regional facility since day one. And it’s one of the reasons why we received the funding that we did, so a part of this mission is to get out and communicate with the other counties across upper Michigan to get a feel for what’s happening in their communities regarding recycling and really furnish the opportunity to them that we have a facility that we’re building these conversations,” Austin said.

In the Upper Peninsula, the logistics of transporting material to the facility from other counties is one of the biggest challenges, he added.

The authority has spoken with Houghton and Alger counties about their involvement with the facility. It plans to meet with economic development groups in Manistique and in Schoolcraft County during the coming weeks.

“There’s a lot of excitement inside and outside of Marquette County. The feasibility study was very clear that this is a facility (that) with Marquette County volume is feasible but certainly, a part of that is we need to attract towns from outside of Marquette County,” Austin said. “That’s one of those things we try to emphasize in all this is that there’s an education component we want to be a part of. This is beyond: ‘We need your material.’ It’s also the authority stepping in and saying: ‘Here’s how we need to recycle and do it the right way so that we get good participation and we maximize the value of the commodity at the marketplace.'”

The use of the facility by other counties would increase recycling participation and divert more materials from Upper Peninsula landfills, overall increasing the life of them.

“The other thing is just connecting people together and doing things the proper way when it comes to recycling. That’s one of the single largest issues that we face now is contamination and I think right behind that is participation,” Austin said. “There’s a lot of folks that want to do this; they just don’t understand how it needs to be done. And it’s really about providing a simple clear program — this is what you can (recycle), this is what you can’t — And that’s really the key to getting more participation in recycling across the entire Upper Peninsula.”

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is tcarey@miningjournal.net.

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