Recycling 101: How to Save the City Money & Help the Planet Too

Recycling 101:  How to Save the City Money & Help the Planet Too

(Crystal A. Proxmire, 11/11/2011)

In a way, there is a lot to know about recycling.  The nuances between plastics, debate over what constitutes a “container,” how much sorting is done and by whom, how the money gets divided among recycling communities, etc.  But, fortunately, recycling can also be broken down into three easy facts: 1. Recycling is good for the environment. 2.  Recycling is good for the City’s bottom line. And 3. Recycling is easier than most people think.

On Nov. 8, 2011 Karen Bever from SOCRRA and Claire Galed, Manager of Huntington Woods Department of Public Services gave a presentation on Recycling 101 at the Ferndale Public Library as part of the Ferndale Environmental Sustainability Commission’s Green Tuesdays educational series.  SOCRRA is the Southeast Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority, a collaborative effort of twelve communities to recycle and earn money for member communities.

Recycling impacts nature in many ways.  Having less plastic, glass, metal and paper in landfills reduces the amount of space needed for storing the waste created by humans.  And when new items can be made by melting down old ones, it reduces the need for oil drilling, mining, and stripping of forestry because the core materials needed are already at hand. As those raw materials become harder to find, recycling will be even more of a necessity.

Because raw materials have scarcity, there is value to items that are recyclable.  Manufacturers need plastic, metal, glass and paper, so SOCRRA is able to collect these items and sell them. Currently for every ton of recyclables collected, cities in the program get $37.50.  If more people recycled, it could earn the City up to $50,000, according to SOCRRA estimates.

Recycling really is easy.  Galed recalled how in the past recycling programs in general were too complicated or restrictive, with requirements for types of plastic accepted or collectors who were too strict about how clean items had to be, or about not collecting plastic bottles with lids, and other similar technicalities which are now overlooked.

“We want it to be simple for people.  If people have even one bad experience they might stop recycling for years.  That’s just how people are,” Galed said.  Now residents simply have to separate their paper from their containers and the rest of the sorting is done once the trucks get back to their sorting facility in Madison Heights.

There is some confusion however on what items can be recycled in the bins, what must be taken to the recycling center or otherwise disposed of properly, and what can go in the regular trash.  While basic recycling is easy, there are a few rule that SOCRRA has.


●ALL plastic containers, regardless of the type or code on the bottom

●Batteries – must be in sealed plastic bag

●Any kind of metal, including old metal hangers.

●Large metal items such at grills, bikes, lawnmowers, water heaters etc can be placed on the curb next to the recycling bin.

●Paper (including mail, newspapers, magazines, catalogues etc)


●Food containers (metal cans, food and beverage boxes, milk and juice cartons, paper cups etc)

●Glass bottles and jars




●Cereal bags and other waxy types of food packaging

●Candy wrappers

●Ceramic cups and other ceramic items

●Regular light bulbs

●Paper towel, tissue or napkins

●Foam egg containers

There are facilities that will that Styrofoam, but SOCCRA is currently not able to.


SPECIAL DISPOSAL ITEMS (Drop off at the Transfer Station in Troy, unless otherwise noted)

●Shoes, blankets, rags and other fabric items can be dropped off at the main recycling facility or donated if in good shape

●CDs, video tapes, and electronic items can be dropped off

●Auto batteries can be dropped off

●Medicines can be dropped off, or they can be donated to Fern Care ( to be either re-used overseas or properly disposed of.  Both places can take medicine that is good or expired.

●Medical equipment (functional or not) can be donated to FernCare.

●Compact fluorescent light bulbs (drop off)

●Aerosol cans, bug spray, dyes, cleaning products, smoke detectors, syringes, glues, paint (latex paint can be dried and thrown in trash but the rest should be brought in for proper disposal)

There was debate at the forum over what constitutes a container, and while specifics were given, Bever says to err on the side of putting items in which may be later sorted out.  There is a small percentage of contamination allowed, and much of it gets noticed when it goes for processing.  “We try to keep it easy,” she said.

Normally bins cost $12 each, but through the month of November the bins are just $6, and the Ferndale DPW will deliver it to your door this month only.  Just call (248) 546-2519 to request one be delivered to your home.  Otherwise they are available at the City Yard (521 E. Cambourne).

To learn more about recycling in Ferndale and other local communities, go to  To keep up with environmental stories in Ferndale, read our Green News section, and follow the FESC on Facebook.  Further refuse collection information can be found on the City Website.  For more educational events at the Ferndale Public Library, go to

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