Editor's note: This is the first part in a two-part series detailing changes regarding recycling in the city of Marquette.
MARQUETTE - The city of Marquette is switching to a dual-stream recycling system May 11 that officials believe is a change for the better.
Residents who recycle now set out their items in a single container for weekly pick-up along with other trash items. However, beginning next month Waste Management will pick up recyclable garbage in two separate "streams" during alternating weeks.
Darren Nowick of Marquette picks up his recycling bin on Kaye Avenue. The city is switching to a dual-stream waste system in May. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)
May 11 will begin with "fiber" pick-up, followed the next week by "rigids" collection. Trash will continue to be picked up on the regular days.
"The biggest thing is going from single stream to dual stream," said Scott Cambensy, superintendent of the city's Department of Public Works. "The first thing is to be aware it's happening. The second thing is educating yourself on which things belong in which category."
Fibers are considered paper and cardboard (plastic envelopes and staples may be included), newspapers and magazines, shoe boxes, corrugated cardboard, books (hardcover and softcover), egg cartons, folders and unsoiled food boxes. They also include beverage cartons and boxes, paper shopping bags, telephone books, office paper and non-metallic gift wrapping.
Rigids are plastic, metal and glass items. Examples of this type of recyclable are glass bottles, jugs and jars; medicine bottles; tins cans; plastic bottles; soda and condiment containers; mouthwash bottles; juice bottles; and milk jugs.
Other acceptable rigids are yogurt and margarine tubs, reusable water bottles, detergent and shampoo bottles, hard plastic toys, CD and DVD cases and utensils.
Labels can stay on rigids, although residents are asked to empty containers and remove caps.
Not accepted are foams, films (such as plastic bags or wrap), wax items, food-coated foils, bubble-wrapped envelopes, photo paper, photographs and organic materials.
Cambensy called the changes a minor adjustment.
"Sorting is all it really amounts to," he said.
The new process is part of the city's plan to upgrade its recycling program. Earlier this year the city entered into a license and user agreement with the Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority for a transfer station to handle recyclables.
This station, expected to open this fall on McClellan Avenue south of the U.S. 41/McClellan intersection, will be where the city will deliver recyclables collected curbside or through drop-off services. The authority will process and market the recyclables, keeping them out of the landfill.
In the meantime, the recycled material will be taken directly to the authority's facilities in Sands Township. There it will be sorted, processed and marketed via regional networks.
Residents can use clean bins and totes to put their recyclables in, but using containers with lids prevents items from blowing out of the containers, said Kyle Whitney, assistant manager for the city.
If wrong materials are placed on the curb in a given week, they will not be collected and an informational sticker will be placed on the items.
Whitney said Michigan hasn't had the best track record for recycling, but is moving to improve it.
"(Gov.) Rick Snyder's making a big push for recycling, for increased recycling," Whitney said. "There's definitely room for improvement. There's always room for improvement."
Cambensy agreed there's a need to improve recycling by directing items from the landfill, adding only about 20 percent of the city's waste stream is recycled.
"In the long term, it extends the life of the landfill," he said.
In the short term, the city will have collection bins available at the Municipal Service Center at 850 W. Baraga Ave., although materials still must be separated into two streams. Collection of household hazardous waste and rubbish drop-off will continue as separate operations.
Whitney said the city wants to convince people who don't recycle or could recycle more to understand its benefits.
"People who are already recycling - this isn't going to be a hurdle for them," he said.
Part two of the series will appear next Friday.
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.