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Issues Of The Environment: Recycle Ann Arbor To Reopen Ann Arbor’s Materials Recovery Facility

Bryan Weinert

Recycling operations will soon become more localized in the Ann Arbor area.  The Materials Recovery facility, or the MRF, has been closed for processing for about four years.  It will be overhauled, and processing functions are expected to be operational in summer of 2021.  Recycle Ann Arbor has a 10-year contract to run the MRF.  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair talks with Recycle Ann Arbor’s director of strategy, Bryan Weinert, about localizing recycling once again. 


  • Four years ago, Ann Arbor chose to shut down the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at 4150 Platt Road indefinitely citing ongoing safety concerns.  The previous operator was terminated, and no suitable replacement was found at that time.  Recyclables have been trucked out of town and out of state for processing in the interim.

  • In July 2020, Ann Arbor City Council unanimously approved a 10-year contract with Recycle Ann Arbor to get the MRF up and safely running.  The Ann Arbor nonprofit agreed to invest more than $5 million into capital improvements.

  • Under the agreement,Recycle Ann Arbor will initially haul recyclables to Oakland County for processing while it redevelops the MRF at its own expense, removing obsolete processing equipment and installing updated equipment.  Eventually, recyclables will once again be processed onsite.  The city will retain ownership of the facility.

  • Under the new deal to make the MRF a processing facility again, Recycle Ann Arbor will charge the city a per-ton fee to cover all costs and the city will receive a share of revenue from selling recyclables, along with a $13.50 per-ton host fee for any third-party materials brought to the facility, and a reduced per-ton processing fee if tonnages exceed certain volumes.  The deal will support 20 local union jobs and save the city money, city officials said.

  • Revenue from recycling is dependent on buyers for the material, and the expected fee per ton has been trending down in recent years.  Based on typical annual tonnages and April 2020 market conditions, the city estimates it could receive a revenue share of about $29.51 per ton or $419,042 annually, and that will be deducted from the base processing fees of over $2 million per year charged by Recycle Ann Arbor.  The MRF will process materials from collected in Ann Arbor, and it will take in recyclables from Detroit and elsewhere for additional revenue.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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