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Reggie, the Recycling Raccoon says: ‘I had a blast at Klager Elementary School at Math and Science Night’

Photo courtesy of Holly Mahaffey/Washtenaw Now.
Photo courtesy of Holly Mahaffey/Washtenaw Now.

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Frank Hammer for the information in this column.)

Reggie the Recycling Raccoon sure had fun at Manchester’s Math and Science night last month teaching folks about recycling and the Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority.

Lots of kids (and their parents), from about age 3 to 12, came to meet Reggie, find out how to recycle, and help their parents get good information about WWRA. There was a “Trash or Treasure” station, where everyone practiced correctly putting various materials into the trash can or the recycling bin.  There was a “How Styrofoam gets made” station, where everyone saw the difference between plain “polystyrene” (raw egg whites), and “Styrofoam” (whipped egg whites.)  You could even turn the whipped “Styrofoam” upside down and it didn’t fall out of the bowl.

And nearly everyone wanted their picture taken with Reggie. WWRA gave away more than 80 of Reggie’s Recycling Rangers Coloring Books and more than a 125 of Reggie’s Recycling Rangers badges.  All those kids will be watching carefully at home, to be sure their families practice up-to-date recycling.

Speaking of up-to-date, the question came up again in discussions with parents about why plastics 3 to 8 “don’t rate.”  There have been buyers of those plastics in the past, but it has been two years since the market basically disappeared in Michigan.  WWRA has decided to continue to storehouse those we do get as a public service.  We are hopeful that we can locate more markets, e.g., Canada buys a small quantity to convert to electrical power, but they usually gather enough of their own. When our storage gets full, we pay to send the rest to the landfill. So for now, Reggie asks for your help, by putting them in your own trash, and keep checking WWRA for Reggie updates.

On another topic, Governor Rick Snyder wishes to improve recycling in Michigan and has recently appointed the head of the DEQ as the “Recycling Czar.”  Reggie is very hopeful that the program will address the issues of disappearing markets. There are places and processes that convert recyclables for all sorts of public good.  For example, glass becomes sand for roads and construction, plastics convert back to diesel fuel for public vehicles, and, as in Canada, burnables are used to generate electrical power.

These processes could be part of Michigan’s plan, and save both our environment and the tax-payer’s money – but, only if Michigan gets directly involved.  As a consumer, and a citizen, that means you have the power.  Read this story.

Reggie remembers 15 years ago, when Michigan was the top recycling state in the Midwest.  Yet today we are dead last by a big margin.  Reggie is embarrassed, and every Michigan resident should be, too.  Reggie says, “It’s time to change.”

Reggie Raccoon’s Royal Recycling Review:

  • Recycling puts materials back into use; trash is for things that cannot be used again.
  • Flexible plastic of all kinds go in the trash, not in the recycling bins.
  • Styrofoam and Polystyrene are good for packaging, but have to go to the trash.
  • Plastics 1 and 2 can live anew, but 3 to 8 just don’t rate.
  • Most other plastics are recyclable—but never foam rubber, garden hoses, or flexibles.
  • Be a recycling consumer. Let businesses know you want recyclable containers and thank those establishments that provide them.
  • Please save a tree by recycling all your paper, including junk mail and cardboard.
  • Michigan could be a top recycling state again; let Governor Snyder and our legislators know you care.

Reggie Re-lert:

  • All plastic bags can now go back to their source — participating grocery stores.

 

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