By Jennifer Earls
It was a trash-talking kind of day in Emmet County April 25 as the members and guests of the local Farm Bureau toured the county’s recycling transfer station. Given a private tour and the opportunity for questions, the goal was to help attendees better understand the how and the why of recycling both household and agricultural waste.
Maria Ginop, a member of the Emmet County Farm Bureau board of directors, discussed the need.
“Farmers are some of the most resourceful people on earth, constantly figuring out how to best accomplish what needs to be done with what we have, and how to best utilize our resources,” she said. “This tour was an extension of that mindset, whether through recycling scrap metal or clothes, to making compost from pallets and waste food.
“The recycling center provides an avenue for everyone to participate in ways to make the best use of our resources, even when they seem like junk!”
Recycling Center Communications Director Kate Melby guided the group through both the indoor and outdoor collection stations that comprise the $4 million facility. In serving approximately 100,000 northern Michigan residents, the facility ships an average of 13,000 tons of recyclable materials each year for use in businesses and products.
Inside the plant the process of sorting recyclables became a reality, with every discarded item sorted by hand into separate bins for milk jugs, detergent containers, newspapers and every other conceivable category.
Revenue comes from waste collection fees and the sale of recyclable materials.
Educating area farmers and school children about food waste, farm waste and improving recycling habits contributes to a stronger conservation ethic throughout the community.
Local farmers already frequent the facility to purchase woodchips, mulch and compost—commodities the center sells by the cubic yard and can deliver truckloads of as necessary. On-farm recyclables and what we can do better became a topic of conversation and there was discussion on inviting Melby to a farm tour to discern better what farmers can and cannot recycle.
Emmet County Farm Bureau exists to promote and protect local agriculture—a mission more readily attained by partnering with sustainable neighbors. Our leadership looks forward to continued work with the transfer station for future events and on-farm recycling discussions.
Jennifer Earls is administrative manager for the Antrim, Charlevoix and Emmet County Farm Bureaus.