Getting Green: Part Two

Landfills are filling up with tons of garbage that could be recycled. From curbside pickup to drive-up drop-offs, there are a variety of ways you can recycle right here in Michiana.

Al Whitfield recycles 80% to 90% of the trash in his Buchanan home. When it’s time to recycle, Whitfield loads up his pickup and heads off to a recycling center located at the Southeast Berrien County Landfill in Buchanan.

There you can recycle just about anything.

There are containers for every colored glass, containers for tin and metal, even a container for batteries.

Recycling has changed dramatically over the years. The things you recycle today may show up in things you’re not even thinking of. For example, a recycled newspaper may show up as insulation or maybe in an envelope as part of some packaging.

To create new products, it takes tons of the originals, literally. At the facility in Buchanan, the newspapers move along a conveyor belt and into a baler. They are stacked and stored until it’s time to be shipped off to other cities where they are made into new products.

Andrea Alexander manages the recycling center. She works hard to improve recycling participation in Berrien County. She says, “we have a lot of contact with the drop-off center. We take the time to educate them. Let them know what we do here, so they can help us out and bring more material in.”

The more material they bring in, the less material ends up in the landfill. In Michigan, there are laws in place to promote recycling.
Environmental specialist Jill Adams says the idea is to make participation easier.

Adams says, “in Michigan we have the bottle bill. People can take their bottles and cans back to the store. All of those materials get recycled. That’s one step in recycling in Michigan that someone can easily do and may already be doing but not realizing they are recycling.

Al Whitfield realizes what he's doing every time he recycles. It's important to him that the rest of Michiana learns too. He believes this environment education is constantly ongoing and people are learning about it all the time.

Berrien County has three landfills and five recycling centers. There are 10 communities that offer curbside pickup.

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