Bay City hopes to roll up its recycling numbers in 2023 with new wheeled carts

Come December, every household in Bay City will have its own 96-gallon wheeled recycling cart — one of a handful of changes to the city’s curbside recycling program that city officials hope will lead to more participation and a greater impact on the environment.

City officials say the larger wheeled recycling carts are about five times as large as the current bins. The larger bins will allow the city to go from a weekly to an every other week pickup schedule, helping the city to better manage an ongoing driver shortage.

Currently, about 25% of Bay City households participate in the city’s curbside recycling program, says Tim Botzau, the city’s Parks and Environmental Affairs Manager. That’s roughly 4,000 to 5,000 households per week that participate in the program.

“Realistically if we could double that, I would be ecstatic,” Botzau says. “I’m just hoping that our residents embrace it.”

Based on statistics from the Recycling Partnership, there generally is an increase of about 1,000 pounds of recyclables annually per household when cities and areas make the transition from bins to carts, Botzau says.

“We anticipate participation by families [who] haven’t participated in the past because of the new recycling cart program,” Botzau says. “This increase in participation and the volume of material collected will increase the statewide recycling rate, while helping the climate by avoiding greenhouse gas emissions.”

City Manager Dana Muscott also is enthusiastic about the upcoming changes and what they will mean for the success of the city’s recycling program.

Cart-based recycling improves access and ease-of-use for those individuals who may otherwise not have the ability to carry or move a bin without wheels, she says. They are “the next step in promoting effective, efficient, and accessible recycling for all residents.”

Muscott says she hopes residents choose to recycle rather than simply throwing items in the trash. Key questions to ask before throwing an item away are, “Can it be recycled? Upcycled? What is the correct way to dispose of this?”

Recycling at times may seem time-consuming, confusing, and a hassle, Muscott says.

“But that’s not the case,” she says. “Putting an item in a recycling cart as opposed to a refuse container only takes a few moments extra, if any at all.”

Closer to time of rollout of the new wheeled carts, city officials will make a color-coded map available to residents showing when the city will begin picking up recyclables from the new carts, Batzou says. Some residents will begin Jan. 2, while others will begin Jan. 9.

In addition to changes in the recycling program, the city also is formalizing the way it began handling bulk items, Batzou says. Residents will be allowed to have one bulk item, such as a couch that won’t fit inside a trash bin, per week.

Reducing waste, re-using items, and recycling are three ways to reduce global warming.Residents are encouraged to regularly check for updates related to the city’s recycling program by visiting underneath the picture of the wheeled trash bin where it says, “Hey Bay City, We’re On a Roll!” People also can read more about the revamped program and upcoming changes on Facebook, he says.

Those who do not obtain information from these sources also can get the information via literature available on the first and fourth floors of City Hall, 301 Washington Ave., Botzau says. Upcoming public outreach meetings and a multi-page recycling guide that will be inserted into each recycling cart as they roll out also will help keep residents informed.

Recycling is clearly a priority for Bay City residents, Botzau says. On Oct. 15, 270 people showed up for the city’s Fall Recycling Day at the Bay City Recycles Drop-Off Center, 2900 N. Water St.

The city still is in the process of tallying the numbers, but preliminary figures show that people who participated in the event brought 760 pounds of disposable batteries, one truckload of shredded paper, half a semi-load of tires, 350 gallons of paint, 4,414 pounds of electronic waste, and other items, he says.

“This event was very successful and was a great chance for our residents to recycle some items we don't usually accept,” Botzau says. “Our residents are amazing. We have some diehard recyclers (who) hold their recycling for the entire year for just this event.”

Despite the success of this year’s Fall Recycling Day, however, the city does not have plans to increase the number of similar events at this time, he says. The city will hold its next large recycling event on Earth Day in April.

And while people can expect changes to the city’s curbside recycling program, there are no changes planned for the Bay City Recycles Drop-Off Center, which opened in 2020 as an expansion of the city’s recycling services, Botzau says. The drop-off center operates by appointment only via, Monday through Friday (and on an occasional Saturday due to holiday delays).

Both programs—the curbside recycling program and the drop-off center—differ in what they will accept from residents, he says. People are strongly encouraged to check out the website for a list of items that the city will and will not accept in both programs.

The bottom line is this: Recycling is the way of the future, Botzau says.

“Up to 70% of what goes into the trash can be recycled,” he says. “Bay City is committed to reducing what is sent to the landfill and encourages everyone to participate. As a steward of the environment, it is crucial to reduce our footprint.”

On a personal note, Botzau says he wants to leave the earth cleaner than he found it, and recycling is one important way to “reduce our footprint” as a “steward of the environment.”

“I recycle more so for my kids and for future generations,” Botzau says. “It is the responsible thing to do.”
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