2018-07-05 / Community

Thumb Industries program participates in conference

GRAND RAPIDS – In June 2017, Thumb Industries Recycling Center was awarded a grant by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) totaling almost $40,000. The funds are being used to aid Thumb Industries in growing their recycling program to expand into additional communities throughout Huron County and to process recyclables more quickly and efficiently.

Thumb Industries was invited to take part in the 36th Annual Michigan Recycling Coalition (MRC) Conference on Tuesday, May 15 in Grand Rapids. It is the largest recycling conference in Michigan with approximately 400 local, regional, state, public and private sector recycling program representatives attendance.

As part of the MRC conference, the MDEQ extended an invitation to Thumb Industries to participate as a lightning round speaker, which gives attendees the opportunity to hear success stories, innovative ideas and learn what counterparts are doing to promote recycling access and education. Thumb Industries was one of five Michigan programs invited to take part in the discussion.

A key topic and focus of the 2018 conference was solid waste law revision in Michigan and Michigan’s recycling initiative. In Michigan, only 15 percent of material thrown away is recycled, which is less than half of the national average. Michigan also has so much landfill capacity the landfill disposal costs are the lowest in the region, which results in more than 25 percent of our trash coming from other states and Canada. Michigan’s current landfill disposal cost is 36 cents per ton. Other states in the region, average $8-$13 per ton. MRC is pursuing landmark legislation to refocus Michigan’s solid waste law. It is focused on identifying and prioritizing the highest and best use of a material rather than it going to a landfill. Part of the law looks at increasing Michigan’s landfill disposal cost to $4.44 per ton and utilizing the money generated to fund recycling access and education.

Danielle McKimmy, Thumb Industries Community Outreach Coordinator, presented on Thumb Industries behalf, speaking about the “humble beginnings” of their recycling program and how far they have come in nine years.

“Thumb Industries was honored to be invited to and take part in the conference,” McKimmy said. “It’s really great to see that the work we do in Huron County makes a difference and that much larger programs started from humble beginnings like we did. It gives us a goal and something to build toward.”

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