Saturday, December 22, 2007

An Overview of the PA 138 Campaign (Failed) Part One

This is a long post, but in it is all of the essential information about the Antrim County recycling campaign of 2007 - township supervisor responses, arguments and talking points, names and numbers.

This blog will become active soon with plan B. If you want to be involved, email brad at artmeetsearth dot org (that's the email address in spambot proof form).

Overview of the Issue

While a few communities in our county have excellent recycling services (Central Lake, Elk Rapids and nearby townships), Antrim County does not have any system that serves constituents in Bellaire, Mancelona or outlying townships.

"Borrowing" recycling drop-offs in Acme, Kalkaska, Emmet, Charlevoix, downstate or anywhere else where we don't live is UNFAIR. Would you stop funding your own fire department or schools knowing you could "borrow" Traverse City's? Of course not.

The Antrim County Solid Waste and Recycling Council is currently following the guidance of the citizen-approved Solid Waste Master Plan, and working towards a comprehensive recycling system with far broader impact in the county.

How does it work? Through PA 138, the county cooperates with interested townships and contracts with waste hauling/recycling companies to set up 24/7 recycling bins. Township boards must vote to pass a resolution approving this relationship with the county; they then charge a small yearly fee (no more than $25, and likely to be closer to $16-20) on the winter tax rolls to cover the costs of the program. Because the county contracts the work out for every township, greater cost savings and efficiencies are achieved. Because recyclable products are being diverted from a landfill-based waste stream, that means less $$ spent each year on expensive garbage bags!

This is a grassroots, citizen led campaign to bring recycling to Antrim County! Read below to find out how you can get involved.

Talking Points

1 - It’s the right thing to do for the environment.
Recycling reduces air pollution and carbon emissions and requires less water than virgin processing.
Recycling reduces the groundwater contamination risk from landfills (Wexford County, anyone?) and surface water contamination risk from incinerators.
Recycling protects natural resources like forests and prevents erosion.
Recycling creates enormous energy savings over new manufacture; between 40% and 80%, depending on the material.

2 - We have a responsibility for our own waste stream and energy use.
Antrim county residents are stealing a public service from Traverse City and other neighbors!
The more we recycle and recover resources, the more independence we gain from international oil, foreign mines, foreign products, etc. In fact, Americans are recycling as much now as we did during WWII.

3 - Recycling supports the Michigan economy.
The recycling industry accounts for over 5,000 jobs in Michigan, including $137,000,000 in payroll, and nearly 2 billion in revenue statewide (from the MRMP: The Economic Impact of Recycling study, Michigan Recycling Coalition 2001).
Though market prices shift (as with any commodity) the overall market has been growing.

4 - Recycling is affordable.
For the cost of a dozen garbage bags/household we can have county wide drop-off recycling, particularly as landfilling is likely to become more expensive over time, and as recycling programs develop greater efficiencies.

5 - Recycling supports the natural beauty, rural character of Antrim County.
Along with protecting lands for recreation and protecting our water, recycling programs help to attract visitors to our area.

6 - PA 138 funding is fair.
Act 138 spreads the cost over parcels, rather than a millage or a book-purchasing program. No single township or segment of the citizens bears the cost.

7 - PA 138 is simple.
Act 138 focuses only on recycling, so it won’t interfere with other waste management programs in your township.

8 - Recycling is in demand in Antrim County The public survey shows overwhelming support - in the area of 93% or higher in many townships.

9 - Recycling is an important component of the Antrim County Solid Waste Plan.

10 - A Recycling program now can be used as a launch pad for better future waste management practices.

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