Sorting it out
Hammer spearheaded the creation of the nonprofit WWRA in 1991. It was originally a partnership among eight communities, but Bridgewater Township pulled back to non-voting associate member status, and the village of Manchester and Sylvan Township have withdrawn from the group.
Hammer says recycling was steady at WWRA for many years but hit a ten-year low in 2010. He thinks both the economy and decreased time for individuals to spend sorting recyclables may be to blame. "The state is saying that recycling is stagnating," he says. "Something needed to be changed." When Ann Arbor switched to single-stream in 2010, it saw recycling volume grow 21 percent in the first year.
Phil Bolyard believes the new system is good for everyone involved. He points to Chelsea's "bag and tag" system for trash, which charges $2.50 per bag. More recycling means less garbage for households, and that's a cost savings. And, he says, single-stream is "less labor intensive, it means less equipment and less fuel-and hopefully this will also mean less trash bags on our roadsides and in our landfills.
[Originally published in February, 2012.]