City of Kalamazoo & Partners Work To Improve Recycling

Published on September 16, 2022

The City of Kalamazoo has joined the Michigan Dept. of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), The Recycling Partnership, a nonprofit organization that works with communities, companies, and governments to transform recycling, and nearly 100 other Michigan communities to help residents recycle more, better.

With the assistance of a $67,644 grant, the City of Kalamazoo has implemented the Recycling Partnership’s “Feet on the Street” cart tagging recycling initiative —a communitywide initiative to improve the quality of recycling in single-stream curbside recycling bins by providing residents personalized and real-time curbside recycling education and feedback.

The “Feet on the Street” program is intended to increase the amount of quality recyclables and reduce the amount of non-recyclables in recycling carts. Developed by The Recycling Partnership, this program helps communities achieve economically efficient recycling programs, reduces the number of new resources used in packaging by providing more recycled content for new products, and improves the cleanliness of communities.

“Recycling is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do,” said Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson. “Recycling properly reduces the cost of sending recyclable materials to the landfill, supports jobs, and improves the health of the environment. We know residents want to recycle the right way and through this campaign, we are providing them personalized, real-time feedback to do just that.”

Included in the “Feet on the Street” program is a comprehensive education and outreach strategy that involves a team of community-based observers visiting each resident’s cart and providing tailored feedback on how to improve what items make it into the cart. 

“The Recycling Partnership is excited to continue working with MI EGLE and Michigan communities to improve residential recycling across the state,” said Cassandra Ford, Community Program Manager at The Recycling Partnership. “Through this project, we are helping capture more quality recyclables that are then transformed into new materials, as well as creating and supporting jobs, less waste, and stronger, healthier communities.”

This year, over $790,000 in grant funding will be allocated to 13 recycling program grantees, representing more than 362,000 households across the Great Lakes state in 2022.  Overall, these 13 new grantees are building on the impact made during a 2021 project with a similar goal to improve recycling across Michigan that reached 100 communities and expand Michigan’s award-winning Know It Before You Throw It campaign, aimed at increasing the state’s recycling rate to 30% by 2025.

“EGLE is excited to continue working with The Recycling Partnership and Michigan communities to continue to improve residential recycling through these quality improvement projects,” said Liz M. Browne, Director of EGLE’s Materials Management Division. “We all have a role to play in the circular economy and these grants will help even more Michigan communities engage with their residents and improve the quality of recyclable materials collected in curbside and drop off programs across Michigan.”

The Partnership has successfully implemented the “Feet on the Street” program in over 70 communities around the nation, with some communities seeing as much as a 57% decrease of nonrecyclables in recycling and average a 27% increase in the overall capture of quality recyclables. 

City residents can learn more about what is and is not acceptable at www.kalamazoocity.org/recycle or by using the Recycle Coach app.

About The Recycling Partnership

At The Recycling Partnership, we are solving for circularity. We mobilize people, data, and solutions across the value chain to unlock the environmental and economic benefits of recycling and a circular economy. We work on the ground with thousands of communities to transform underperforming recycling programs and tackle circular economy challenges. We work with companies to make their packaging more circular and help them meet their climate and sustainability goals. And we work with government to develop the policy solutions that will address the systemic needs of our residential recycling system. Since 2014, the nonprofit change agent diverted 500 million pounds of new recyclables from landfills, saved 968 million gallons of water, avoided more than 500,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, and drove significant reductions in targeted contamination rates. Learn more at recyclingpartnership.org.

Tagged as: