Tuscola County recycling program considers move to Riverview Auto site

Tuscola County Recycling 15 11 3 (8)Tuscola County officials are considering acquiring or leasing the former site of Caro’s Riverview Auto and Recycling to relocate and expand area recycling operations.

The Tuscola County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 Thursday on a motion giving Mike Miller, director of buildings and grounds, Tuscola County, the go-ahead to explore the feasibility of relocating Tuscola County’s Recycling Center.

The motion wasn’t specific, but Miller said the site under consideration is Riverview Auto & Recycling, 987 Ellington St. (M-24), Caro, which closed its doors in July after the business struggled to stay afloat since its founder died in a 2014 single airplane crash.

Such a move would allow Tuscola County to up its recycling game, Miller said.

“It’s a good location – only about a half-mile from the current location so it won’t make it too difficult for customers to change,” Miller told The Advertiser. “And it has about 10 acres that come with it.

“That would allow us to expand into further programs down the road,” Miller said.

About a month after Riverview closed, Tuscola County voters approved a recycling millage renewal 4,683-2,139.

The rate of .15 mills (15 cents for every $1,000 of taxable value) is expected to raise an estimated $262,000 in its first year. Miller told The Advertiser that the millage currently provides for 95 percent of the program’s funding.

In 2015, Tuscola County’s recycling program handled 635 tons of material from various sources.

For example, the program sets up recycling trailers over most weekends in Fostoria along with Akron, Elmwood, and Juniata townships.

Tuscola County recycling also provides weekly or bi-weekly pick-ups for more than 100 businesses in Tuscola County. Permanent trailers are placed at the Tuscola County Medical Care Facility in Caro, Family Dollar in Caro, Kingston High School, Hills and Dales Hospital in Cass City, Rosati’s Marketplace in Millington, and Dollar Tree in Caro. These trailers are brought back to the county’s recycling facility for weekly or bi-weekly processing.

The program’s facility at 1123 Mertz Road (M-24) accepts material Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Residents can take in their recyclables and sort them, or ask facility employees for help. Three full-time and three part-time employees operate the facility.

By expanding, the county recycling program could expand what it takes in. For example, the center now only accepts limited kinds of plastic (currently items with the nos. 1 and 2 recycling symbols – there are seven).

In addition to the 10 acres, the Riverview site would include the former business’s main building that is about 6,600 square feet.

“That’s about three times what we have now,” Miller said.

Tuscola County rents its current Mertz Road facility from the city of Caro, Miller said.  

The lease agreement started when the county launched its recycling program.

Miller said the lease was expanded for six months prior to the millage vote so that officials could have a better idea of the program’s future before making any plans. That lease, which expires in February, will likely have to be extended again, Miller said.

Ultimately, Miller said he hopes Tuscola County could be a hub for recycling like those in surrounding counties.

Tuscola County Commissioner Matthew Bierlein made the motion to explore the feasibility of purchasing or leasing a new site for the county’s recycling program.

“It’s really about expanding the services that we can offer to residents,” Bierlein said.

He added that if the program continues growing and expanded, it could become less dependent on the millage.

“If we could have enough material to be self-sufficient, to where we didn’t need a millage, I think that’s everybody’s goal long term,” Bierlein said.

Gov. Rick Snyder presented the “Proposed Plan of Action on Recycling” in 2014 – part of a major effort to improve the state’s abysmal 10 percent recycling rate to be closer to at least 30 percent.

“On every other reusable product – glass, paper, plastics, metals, organics – Michigan has fallen behind,” according to a press release issued at the time. “Our residential recycling rate is only 14.5 percent, lower than every other Great Lakes state, and one of the lowest in the country. The rest of our waste – $435 million worth of reusable materials annually – goes straight into a landfill. But the market for recycled materials continues to expand. By investing in this growing sector through increased recycling in the state, all Michigan residents can help strengthen our economy.”

Snyder’s plan aims to make recycling easier for all Michiganders, with convenient access to residential recycling. It also aims to make recycling even more economically beneficial, with further market development for recycled products.

Miller said that within the next two weeks he will inspect the Riverview site inside and out with expert electricians and others.

Andrew Dietderich is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at andrew@tcadvertiser.com

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