Howard Scheps “can’t exactly say” when he last rolled his trash cart to the curb in front of his east-side home. “Maybe right after Christmas,” says Scheps, who works in the Ann Arbor City Clerk’s office. “We had some people over, and there was a lot of wrapping paper.”

Scheps says he and his wife don’t consider themselves “super recyclers,” but they regularly visit the drop-off station, take materials that the city doesn’t accept for recycling to retailers that do, compost all their food waste, buy groceries in bulk to minimize packaging, and use their own bags and containers for both food shopping and takeout. “I’m just conscientious of what I’m doing,” he says. “I assume everybody else is doing their part as well. It’s really quite easy now with single-stream [recycling].”

Ironically, the relatively new system also gives the Scheps an incentive to put out their recycling bin more often than they would like. “It seems strange to me in terms of economics, which is my background,” says Scheps, “but your Recyclebank credits aren’t based on how much is in it but how many times they empty it, so it kind of pays to put it out frequently.”