More than $450,000 in grants has been awarded to Kent County and Grand Rapids Public Schools to help divert more of the county’s trash away from landfills.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) announced Monday morning the two grants that are part of a statewide “Know It Before You Throw It” recycling campaign.
“Increasing recycling and improving the quality of materials we’re recycling is not only the right thing to do for our environment, but it also saves energy, reduces water use, decreases greenhouse gases, conserves resources and translates into local jobs,” said Jack Schinderle, director of EGLE’s materials management division.
EGLE gave its largest-ever recycling grant – nearly $258,000 - to GRPS to improve recycling access, infrastructure and education. The money will bring in 1,279 recycling receptacles and 112 dollies to address janitorial needs that will increase collection capacity by 400 percent.
“We’ve increased the size of our recycling bins, connecting them to our waste trash bins. We’re improving our signage so it’s easier to know as soon as you approach the bin what goes where,” said Kristen Trovillion, sustainability coordinator for the school district. “We’re just trying to make that very easy and visible and consistent for all of our students and staff.
At GRPS, Trovillion works to reduce the overall impact the school district has on the environment by paying attention to all the details – like energy saving light bulbs and non-toxic desk cleaners. She said recycling education begins with elementary students.
“We want them to connect that habit of tossing into a recycling bin to an actual end result, so they know the ‘why’ behind it as well,” she said.
Trovillion said it’s important to set an example for and educate the next generation on recycling before the numbers get even worse.
“We need to shift the way we’re thinking about our waste,” Trovillion said. “We don’t have infinite landfill capacity. We can’t just keep tossing things in the landfill and down the road hoping the next generation is going to solve this. We really need to start looking at how we can reduce that landfill waste.”