News release: EGLE, The Recycling Partnership award more than $2M to support largest expansion of recycling in Detroit history


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Jan. 7, 2020
Jill A. Greenberg, EGLE Public Information Officer,, 517-897-4965
Samantha Kappalman, The Recycling Partnership,, 443-223-3322

EGLE, The Recycling Partnership award more than $2M to support largest expansion of recycling in Detroit history

New funds highlight state’s Know It Before You Throw It education campaign that aims to double state’s recycling rate to 30% by 2025

The City of Detroit is receiving nearly $1 million in grants to support the largest expansion of recycling in the city’s history as part of a first-ever, $2.2 million public-private collaboration to increase recycling education statewide in 2020. Liesl Clark, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), announced the grants Jan. 6.

The effort, which is funded by EGLE and the national nonprofit The Recycling Partnership with special support from the PepsiCo Foundation, will help build on the success of Michigan’s national award-winning Know It Before You Throw It recycling education campaign that EGLE launched last year.

“We are committed to informing and inspiring more people than ever before in Detroit and across Michigan about how to recycle better,” Clark said during a morning news conference at the Detroit Department of Public Works, where she was joined by Detroit Office of Sustainability Director Joel Howrani Heeres, city and nonprofit leaders, as well as Detroit-area state legislators.

“Increasing recycling and improving the quality of materials we’re recycling is not only the right thing to do for our environment, but it also saves energy, reduces water use, decreases greenhouse gases, conserves resources and translates into local jobs,” Clark said.

The aim of the first-of-its-kind Know It Before You Throw It statewide push is to better inform Michiganders on what can – and cannot – be recycled and how to recycle correctly.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state legislators want to double Michigan’s recycling rate to 30% by 2025 and ultimately reach 45% annually. Michigan’s current 15% recycling rate is the lowest in the Great Lakes region and ranks among the nation’s lowest. Equally important, EGLE and its campaign partners across the state are promoting awareness of cleaner recycling practices to reduce the amount of contaminated materials improperly going into recycling bins.  

The nearly $800,000 in grants to Detroit includes more than $458,000 from EGLE and $325,000 from The Recycling Partnership that will help fund new services offered this year by the city’s Department of Public Works in its multifamily, commercial and public space recycling programs.

“The Recycling Partnership’s grant of $325,000 is its first-ever to Detroit and will help spur a citywide education campaign rolling out in 2020 to increase participation in curbside and multifamily recycling programs,” Howrani Heeres said. “It’s time for each of us to step up our efforts and increase the quantity and quality of recycling in every Detroit home and business.”

The collaboration between Detroit, EGLE and The Recycling Partnership, with special support from the PepsiCo Foundation, will increase residential access to recycling and collection capacity in Detroit through the purchase of 16,400 curbside recycling carts and nearly 4,000 multifamily containers. Grant funds also will provide additional collection capacity through commercial, public space and municipal recycling containers of various sizes and a collection vehicle.

“Implementing curbside recycling with carts is an exciting initiative that can have huge benefits for the city,” said Cody Marshall, chief community strategy officer at The Recycling Partnership. “The more we recycle, the more we reduce pollution and conserve resources. We are excited to work with the City of Detroit to provide curbside carts to more residents throughout the city.”

“We’re proud to work with The Recycling Partnership and city and state leaders to make these important investments in Detroit that will help more than 76,000 families increase their recycling and capture an estimated additional 1,315 tons of recyclables per year,” said Tim Carey, vice president of Sustainability PepsiCo Beverages North America. “Our investment in Detroit’s recycling is part of PepsiCo’s global work to help build a circular future for packaging and a world where plastics need never become waste. Working together, we can help reach Michigan’s goal to increase statewide recycling by 30 percent.”

Recycling across Michigan is receiving a major boost as state legislators have increased EGLE’s funding for recycling projects from $2 million in FY2018 to $15 million in FY 2019-2020. The additional funds are being used to support development of recycling markets, increase access to recycling opportunities, and support planning efforts to grow recycling at the local level.

“As a community, we’re discarding more than 100,000 tons of materials each year that could be recycled instead of being tossed in the trash,” said state Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit). “This grant will help us divert even more waste from our landfills.”

“These recycling grants are a tremendous step forward in helping Detroit implement thoughtful recycling programs while also delivering infrastructure support to help promote and expand recycling in our city,” said state Sen. Betty Jean Alexander (D-Detroit).

“The broad support that exists for recycling in Detroit – from neighborhood and community groups, industry, environmental advocates, waste management, and all types of materials groups – also reveals a strong consensus exists among all stakeholders that education and outreach is essential to help improve our recycling systems,” said state Rep. Cynthia A. Johnson (D-Detroit).

Highlighting today’s news conference was the Detroit debut of EGLE’s Michigan Recycling Raccoon Squad, a six-member team of recycling champions who serve as EGLE’s education ambassadors. EGLE research shows that education is key for residents to learn how to properly recycle. For example:

  • 50% of Michigan residents mistakenly believe they’re allowed to recycle plastic bags in their curbside recycling, which is prohibited by many municipalities statewide.
  • 76% of Michiganders are unaware that failing to rinse and empty items before putting them in the recycling bin poses a risk of contaminating everything in the bin.

In addition to the Detroit grant, EGLE and The Recycling Partnership also new 2020 grant opportunities across Michigan totaling $1.5 million to communities seeking to improve material quality in residential curbside and drop-off recycling programs. This commitment from the state of Michigan will strengthen the state recycling system by providing quality materials to manufacturing facilities that depend on them to create new products and ultimately back to consumers who want to buy them.

Any Michigan municipality, township, county or regional authority representing a group of communities currently operating a curbside and/or drop-off recycling program is eligible to apply for up to $150,000 per grant application. Funding may be used for cart tagging, education and communication, social media, signage and other tactics aimed at reducing contamination. Applications are due by Feb. 28, 2020.

“EGLE’s Know It Before You Throw It campaign is developing the consistency in recycling messaging that Michigan needs to successfully improve the quality of recycling material for end markets in the state of Michigan and beyond,” The Recycling Partnership’s Marshall said. “Strengthening the state recycling system and reducing trash and other non-recyclables in the recycling helps transform our economy from a linear one to circular, helps reduce the need of using new natural resources and supports local jobs.”

The Know It Before You Throw It campaign comes at a time when communities across Michigan and the U.S. are struggling with international market shifts for recyclables. At the same time, recyclers nationwide are placing a priority on shipping cleaner materials to their customers with an emphasis that generating more clean recyclables can create jobs and build stronger local economies.

The economic impact of tripling the recycling rate to 45% would support 138,000 new jobs in Michigan’s recycling industry, providing $9 billion in annual labor income and $33.8 billion in economic output, according to a new study commissioned by EGLE. The recycling industry in Michigan currently generates nearly 36,000 jobs statewide and an annual payroll of $2.6 billion, a 2016 analysis commissioned by EGLE shows.

Know It Before You Throw It was recently named Recycling Campaign of the Year by Waste Dive, a leading industry news publisher based in Washington, D.C.

More information about the Know It Before You Throw It campaign is available at


About The Recycling Partnership 

The Recycling Partnership is a national nonprofit organization that leverages corporate partner funding to transform recycling for good in states, cities and communities all across America. As the only organization in the country that engages the full recycling supply chain from the corporations that manufacture products and packaging to local governments charged with recycling to industry end markets, haulers, material recovery facilities, and converters; The Recycling Partnership positively impacts recycling at every step in the process. The Recycling Partnership has served more than 1,400 communities and counting with best-in-class tools, data, resources and technical support, helped place 712,000 recycling carts, reached 74 million American households, and helped companies and communities invest more than $43 million in recycling infrastructure. In doing so, The Recycling Partnership has created meaningful social, environmental and economic change. By the end of 2019, the nonprofit change agent estimates it will have diverted 233 million pounds of new recyclables, saved 465 million gallons of water, avoided 251,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases and driven significant reductions in targeted contamination rates.

About PepsiCo Foundation

Established in 1962, The PepsiCo Foundation works with nonprofit partners and invests in the essential elements of a sustainable food system – helping alleviate hunger, manage water and waste responsibly, and support women as champions of nutrition from farm to family.