April 18, 2016

Consortium Targets Growing Landfills

By KYLE KAMINSKI kkaminski@record-eagle.com Apr 11, 2016

TRAVERSE CITY — Ella Cooper-Froehlich knows that “going green” isn’t always the cheapest option.

Purchasing energy-efficient appliances can be costly, and not everyone can afford to replace their SUV with the latest hybrid. That’s why the director of the Michigan Green Consortium wants to offer everyone a chance to reduce their ecological footprint.

The grounds of the American Waste Facility at 280 Hughes Drive transforms into a recycle, repurpose and reuse collection area twice each year, offering the community a chance to donate items that may otherwise end up in a landfill.

The 14th biennial “Clean Up Green Up” event takes place April 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s designed to force residents take a second look before tossing an item in the trash. Cooper-Froehlich wants people to ask: Is this item truly at the end of its life?

“We don’t want people to take our natural beauty for granted,” she said. “We want it to be here for future generations.”

And that scenery won’t be here in 30 or 40 years if landfills keep growing at their current rate, Cooper-Froehlich warned. Landfills take up a lot of space and their contents can take centuries to decompose — if they decompose at all.

“We don’t want to convert what used to be beautiful beach frontage into a landfill,” Cooper-Froehlich said.

She said she’d rather items be reused by companies or individuals that need the materials, or at the very least ensure they are recycled properly.

“Some of these items are created and manufactured out of components that, if left in the ground, could be dangerous,” she said. “Television sets, for example, use some dangerous metals that can’t just be tossed in the backyard.”

Fifteen area companies are joining the consortium to help collect items at the event. Home Depot is looking for residential fluorescent and CFL light bulbs. Business Helper wants packaging supplies. Team Elmer’s will be onsite collecting asphalt, porcelain, concrete and more.

Representatives from Cherryland Electric Cooperative and Traverse City Light and Power will be available to collect air conditioner units, dehumidifiers, refrigerators and freezers. In exchange donors will receive rebates on their next bill.

“Being an electric cooperative, we’re always looking to help our members use energy more efficiently,” said Cherryland Member Relations Manager Rachel Johnson. “Another is to help our members get rid of these old appliances.”

Recycling some items can be costly, with some collection areas charging upwards of $50 to properly dispose of aging appliances. At the Clean Up Green Up event people can drop off many items at no charge — with the exception of TVs.

Those looking to get rid of TVs will be able to retrieve a $10 coupon from Bay Area Recycling for Charities at the event, splitting the consumer cost in half from its usual $20 recycling fee.

Cooper-Froehlich said an average of 11,000 pounds of small electronics are recycled each year and 10,000 pounds of scrap metal are donated at each event, making an “absolutely enormous” impact in protecting the environment.

Visit cleanupgreenup.com for a full listing of acceptable items, as well as a station map to help guests efficiently pack their vehicles for an expedient drop-off.

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