Single stream recycling arrives in Chelsea Monday as the Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority (WWRA) makes a switch to the comingled and more convenient system.
“We’ll make the switch-over on Sept. 24,” said Phil Bolyard, manager of WWRA.
Member communities of WWRA – Chelsea and the townships of Lyndon, Lima, Dexter and Manchester townships as well as associate member Bridgewater Township – will benefit from the $3.5 million building expansion and new single stream system.
What this means is residents of these communities will no longer have to sort their acceptable recyclable materials such as newspaper and junk mail, magazines, catalogues, paperback and phone books, white office paper, cardboard, paper bags, cereal boxes, juice and milk cartons.
Also allowed are 1-7 mixed plastic bottles, milk jugs, detergent bottles, cottage cheese, yogurt, rigid plastics, plastic buckets, glass bottles, jars, clear and green and brown (but no blue), tin and aluminum cans.
Not allowed are items such as plastic bags tarps, shrink wrap, pool covers, bubble wrap, Styrofoam, and oil containers.
For about a month, the comingled materials will be taken to Ann Arbor while the new WWRA building addition construction is completed and the 10 employees are trained on the new machinery, which is expected to be complete on Oct. 24, Bolyard said.
The switchover is expected to increase the amount of recycling while making the process more convenient for residents.
WWRA expects to make more money with the product that’s collected and sold as has been the case in other communities. Plus, they expect more people to recycle because now it’s easier to do.
Currently, WWRA is recycling 3,500-4,000 tons per year and expects an increase to 5,000-6,000 tons per year with the single stream system.
“Grand Rapids was up 40 percent within the first 3-4 months and up 100 percent after 12 months,” Bolyard said.
WWRA is using “an extremely conservative model; we assumed a 20-percent increase in three years,” he said.
The county has backed the $2.7 million in bonds for the project and WWRA kicked in $500,000 from its general fund for the $3.5 million project, said Frank Hammer, chairman of the WWRA board.
There are 12 bin sites in the WWRA area and 3,600 pickups are made a year, Bolyard said.
“We thank the residents who separated their recycling for the last 20 years,” Hammer said.
According to information about the new equipment that will be used, “The durable new equipment can process much more material than the current system and will increase revenue. A more efficient equipment layout and automation will improve the service provided to area residents without the need for increased staffing.”
Staff will work from a 17,000-square-foot building with a new paved entrance that has an office, conference room, break room and two restrooms. The old building was 5,000 square feet.
With the new system, recycling will be easier for residents, who are asked to rinse containers, flatten boxes and toss them all in the same container.
“In addition to saving time, it also eliminates the need for a garage full of containers for plastic, paper, cardboard and metal,” information about the new program states.