News Release: ZWD calls on Orr to follow Governor’s push for recycling

For Immediate Release: June 13, 2013 
Contact – Zero Waste Detroit: Margaret Weber, 313-938-1133
Sandra Turner-Handy, 313-926-9811
Ahmina Maxey, 313-986-2990

Detroit waste management being privatized: Coalition calls on EM Kevyn Orr to implement citywide curbside recycling

Fits with Gov. Rick Snyder’s call for more recycling; 2014 plan



DETROIT, MI – Privatization of the City of Detroit’s waste collection, confirmed this week by the City, provides an opportunity to implement a robust solid waste management program utilizing comprehensive city-wide recycling.

Zero Waste Detroit (ZWD) urges city leadership to mandate expansion of curbside recycling city-wide as part of the requirement for private contractors.

The office of Emergency Manager is currently undergoing plans to privatize the City of Detroit’s solid waste management system, specifically waste collection.  In light of this reality ZWD seeks to modernize waste collection in Detroit, ensure DPW workers are supported, and facilitate an open and transparent request for proposal process through the City.

“The strength of Detroit’s waste collection has been its DPW workers, and we as a coalition stand behind them 100%.  We demand that any changes to the system support the workers, and that they are given first preference in hiring by the new contractor if the system is privatized,” stated Gloria Rivera of Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit and Zero Waste Detroit.

Additionally, ZWD notes that a successful solid waste management program must follow best practice with same day collection of recycling and waste, use of carts instead of bins, a strong educational component, and a compost system.

Materials recovery and composting provide value-added, Michigan-made products that create jobs and stimulate the city and regional economy.

“In a 2012 address, Governor Rick Snyder identified boosting Michigan’s recycling rates as a priority for his administration.  Recycling has the potential to create jobs, and keep Detroiters employed.  Cities such as Houston and Atlanta have used recycling to boost job growth, and have proven successful with city-wide recycling programs which follow best practice.  Zero Waste Detroit asks that the City of Detroit do the same,” stated Margaret Weber of Rosedale Recycles.

Snyder said in his special message on the environment last year that Michigan needs “…to look beyond our recycling of cans and plastic bottles and creatively figure out what we can do to reduce our waste overall.” He promised a plan in 2014 to improve Michigan’s recycling rate.

“This is a golden opportunity for Gov. Snyder and Mr. Orr to get a head start on the governor’s commitment,” said Sandra Turner-Handy of Michigan Environmental Council and ZWD.

Just 7% of Detroit’s waste is recycled in Detroit leaving the majority to be burned at the Detroit Incinerator, the largest municipal solid waste incinerator in the country.  The facility’s odor is a nuisance to residents living in the area, and has it ranked 5th worst in Wayne County for nitrogen oxide pollution.   The more the City’s trash is recycled, the less the City contributes to this polluting facility.

“The incinerator is one of the largest polluters in Wayne County, and contributes to Detroit’s high asthma rates.  It will be to the benefit of all Detroiters to recycle more of our trash,” stated Rhonda Anderson of the Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice Program and Zero Waste Detroit.

ZWD urges Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to initiate and articulate a vision that will demonstrate environmental leadership and provide economic opportunity for Detroit.


Zero Waste Detroit is a group of community and environmental groups: Coalition for Community Change. Detroit Audubon Society, Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Ecology Center, Feedom Freedom, Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit, Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, Green Door Initiative, Greenacres Woodward Civic Association, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Michigan Environmental Council, Rosedale Recycles, Sierra Club Environmental Justice Program, Sierra Club Southeast Michigan Group, Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision, Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, Voices for Earth Justice, We Want Green, Too!, 48217 Community & Environmental Health Organization