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Waste management company plans $35 million recycling hub in Detroit

A WM, formerly known as "Waste Management" recycling facility in Salt Lake City.
A WM, formerly known as "Waste Management" recycling facility in Salt Lake City.

One of the country’s largest waste management companies said Wednesday it plans to expand its footprint in Michigan with a new $35 million facility in Detroit.

The new facility will serve as a recycling hub for the six other WM facilities in the state.

Aaron Johnson is the Great Lakes Area Vice President for the company, which was formerly called "Waste Management."

He said only 20% of Detroiters are enrolled in curbside recycling pickup, which means a lot of recycling is ending up in the trash.

"Our hope is to increase the participation rates in Detroit. But before we can get more people to recycle, we got to add capacity because there's just not a lot of capacity on the market today to process those materials," he said.

Johnson said WM currently collects about 60% of the trash, recycling, and yard waste from Detroiters.

He said efforts to increase recycling participation will include social media campaigns as well as school visits to encourage kids and families to recycle.

"We're more than just a waste company. We're a sustainability company," Johnson said. "Yes, we're known for our landfills and the waste that we manage for people and for companies, but we want to create a circular economy, and we want to be at the center of the sustainability discussion."

Johnson said that the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy gave WM a grant recently for $465,000 that will be used to support the building of this multi-million dollar recycling center.

In a press release, the company said it plans to process up to 40 tons per hour and expects to receive recycled materials from residential, industrial, and commercial properties.

In a statement, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the city "looks forward to supporting WM’s investment in a state-of-the-art recycling facility.”

“This project will drive economic growth in our great city by creating career opportunities for Detroiters, and positioning Detroit as the epicenter of a circular economy for Michigan business,” Duggan said.

A location has not been finalized but WM officials said they hope to break ground this year and open the facility in early 2024.

Briana Rice is a reporter/producer operating out of Detroit.
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