For many years, the Michigan Recycling Coalition has advocated for greater State oversight and investment in sustainable materials management in Michigan. This advocacy was solidified through the MRC's 2011 State of Recycling in Michigan. 

2011 State of Recycling in Michigan

"Given Michigan's job prospects, unemployment rate, and economic outlook, capturing the economic benefits provided by increased recycling should be made a priority for the state."


Statewide initiatives to reduce waste and improve Michigan's recycling rate. See the documents below for more information! 



GRC and the SWSAP recommendations were used to inform the Legislative Service Bureau's development of a bill that represents landmark policy changes in Michigan. The Michigan Recycling Coalition and its members are committed to ensuring that any resulting legislation makes organic and inorganic recycling or the productive use of waste materials a priority for the state of Michigan. 

In 2014, Governor Snyder established his Recycling Initiative with a goal to double Michigan's recycling rate from 15% to 30%. To accomplish this task, the Governor appointed nine members to the Governor's Recycling Council. The Council has made a set of recommendations to move the State toward its goal. 

Angela Ayers
Executive Office of the Governor

Jim Frey, CEO
Resource Recycling Systems

Mike Csapo

Linda Gobler
Michigan Grocers Association

Jim Kulp
Plastipak Packaging
Clean Tech

Bill Lobenherz
Michigan Soft Drink Association

Kerrin O'Brien
Michigan Recycling Coalition

Tonia Olson
Michigan Waste and Recycling Association

Don Pyle
Delta County Solid Waste Management Authority

Elisa Seltzer
Emmet County Public Works Department

Solid Waste and Sustainability Advisory Panel (SWSAP)

To assist the Governor in achieving his goals, the Department of Environmental Quality invited key stakeholders to review part 115, the laws that govern solid waste in Michigan, to identify needed changes and updates to the existing policy framework. The Solid Waste and Sustainability Advisory Panel has also made its recommendations. 

Richard Smith
Representing the Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission

Harold Register Jr. 
Consumers Energy representing electric utilities

Arthur Siegal
Representing the Michigan Chamber of Commerce

Darwin Baas
Representing the Michigan Association of Counties

Sean Hammond
Representing the Michigan Environmental Council

Andy Such
Representing the Michigan Manufacturer's Association

Christina Gomes (And Matthew Naud)
Representing the Michigan Municipal League

Tonia Olson
Representing the Michigan Waste and Recycling Association

Kerrin O'Brien
Representing the Michigan Recycling Coalition

Dana Kirk
Michigan State University 
Representing academia, recycling, agriculture, and energy

Tom Frazier
Representing the Michigan Townships Association

Brad Venman
NTH Consultants, Ltd. 
Representing environmental consulting firms. 

Tom McGillis
U.S. Ecology
Representing solid waste processors and the liquid industrial by-products industry. 

A Brief History

For almost 40 years, Michigan solid waste policy has been focused on assuring disposal capacity for waste. Those policies have been successful. We have a landfill disposal capacity, and it's inexpensive. But now, we know that the waste we pay to throw away has value on the market. If we can collect, sort, aggregate, and get paper, plastic, metal, and glass back into the market, we can recover more than half of the waste stream to feed industry and create well over $435 million in economic value for Michigan. 

Potential economic value of recoverable waste stream
Cost to collect and dispose of MI residential waste

Current Michigan solid waste policy, however, does not acknowledge the inherent value of these materials, nor does it account for the contribution the recycling industry makes to economic development or the development of Michigan markets for these materials the way we do with other commodities, and it costs us. 

Collectively, in 2016, we spent $997 million to collect and dispose of Michigan residential waste. Applying policy to shift the current spend to move materials from the dead end of disposal to the more productive recycling economy makes economic sense. In fact, recycling generated $75 million in revenue in 2016. With focused policy and investment, that number will rise. 

State of Recycling in Michigan

While the State of Michigan does not require reporting of recycling nor comprehensively collect related data, Biocycle Magazine, an industry publication, estimates Michigan's recycling rate at 14.5%. This recycling rate puts Michigan behind almost all states in the Great Lakes region and is far below the 2007 State Solid Waste Policy's recycling goal of 50% by 2015. 

The Michigan Recycling Coalition's 2011 State of Recycling in Michigan: A Way Forward sought to identify both the economic and environmental benefits of recycling to the state. The report estimates the value of the materials currently disposed of in Michigan at approximately $500 million annually. In a November 2012 special message (page 18) to the state legislature, Michigan's Governor, Rick Snyder identified recycling as a priority for his administration. The State's Department of Environmental Quality has been working with stakeholders to explore and identify policy and funding options to support the increased recovery and recycling of products and packaging in Michigan. The Department presented its first proposal for consideration by the Recycling Workgroup on September 10, 2013.


Residential Recycling in Michigan: Communities with more than 10,000 people, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Improving Recycling Performance in Michigan: Best Practices, Options, and Potential Costs, Public Sector Consultants for the Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers 2013

Expanding Recycling in Michigan: An Update, Public Sector Consultants for the Michigan Recycling Partnership 2009

Expanding Recycling in Michigan, Public Sector Consultants for the Michigan Recycling Partnership 2006

Recommendations for Improving and Expanding Recycling in Michigan, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Michigan Recycling Measurement Project: Collection and Diversion, Michigan Recycling Coalition, 2001

Michigan Recycling Measurement Project, Economic Impacts, Michigan Recycling Coalition 2001

Michigan Bottle Bill: A Final Report to the Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund, Stutz and Gilbert 2000

Michigan Annual Landfill Reports