Recycling in Michigan has reached a new all-time high, increasing from 14.25% to 19.3% between 2019 and 2022. This 35.4% increase was documented in a new analysis conducted by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, & Energy (EGLE). The higher recycling rate means that Michigan is annually capturing over 500,000 more tons of cardboard boxes, milk cartons, plastic bottles, and other organic and recyclable material – equating to over 110 pounds per-person each year.
EGLE attributes much of its success to its strategy to support recycling infrastructure, improve the quality of recyclable materials, and promote market development using the Renew Michigan Fund, which the Legislature created in 2019 to bolster the state’s recycling efforts. Grants through Renew Michigan and Nextcycle Michigan have helped to expand recycling access and awareness across the state.
More Michiganders than ever have access to recycling services. Since 2019, the state has worked with businesses and local communities to nearly double the number of households with available curbside recycling carts and drop-off sites. Nearly three-quarters of the state’s population now has access to recycling in their communities.
New findings from an EGLE-commissioned survey also show that Michiganders better understand recycling best practices. The agency credits its award-winning “Know It Before You Throw It” campaign featuring the Recycling Raccoons Squad for much of the increased awareness.
Michigan has shown a high return on its investment in recycling programs. The state estimates that every dollar in EGLE grants helps generate $10 in additional spending by private businesses, local governments, and nonprofits. Since 2019, Michigan has invested more than $460 million in recycling for new technology, robotics with artificial intelligence, fleet maintenance improvements, equipment upgrades, and hiring new employees. Nearly 80% of that total came from local government, nonprofits, and businesses across the state. Those combined investments are driving Michigan’s plan to develop markets that will capture an ever-increasing stream of recycled content.