Recycling Issues, Policies, and Practices among Michigan Local Governments

March 2022

This report presents the views of Michigan’s local government leaders regarding a variety of recycling issues and policies in their jurisdictions, including what types of recycling services are offered in communities across the state, changes to local recycling services in the past few years, local government funding sources and staffing for recycling, assessments of residents’ interest in new recycling services not currently offered, and more. These findings are based on statewide surveys of local government leaders in the Fall 2021 wave of the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS), as part of the Michigan Local Recycling Policy Project.

View full report

Key findings

  • Statewide, 86% of Michigan local leaders report that recycling is somewhat (39%) or very (47%) important to their community members, with 65% of officials from state’s largest jurisdictions—those with over 30,000 residents—saying recycling issues are very important in their communities. 
  • Among cities, villages, and townships, 79% report that residents have at least some access to various recycling services, including drop-off facilities for recycling (49%), curbside recycling (43%), household hazardous waste collection (42%), e-waste collection (34%), collection of yard waste material for composting (33%), and on-site recycling services for businesses (20%). 
    • Almost all county officials report there is access to at least some recycling in their county, including 78% that have at least some access to drop-off facilities and 77% that have household hazardous waste collection available.
  • When it comes to service providers, local leaders report that dropoff facilities as well as e-waste and hazardous household materials collection are most commonly run by the county government alone or as joint/regional collaborations, while curbside recycling is most commonly provided by private contractors, and yard waste collection for composting is most likely to be run by cities, villages, and townships themselves.
  • Despite the challenges to local governments during the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly two-thirds (63%) say there has been no substantial change over the past two years in recycling services or programs offered to residents. Meanwhile 14% report expanding services, while 11% report reducing them in this time frame. 
  • When asked about their jurisdiction’s current spending levels on recycling, a majority of local leaders (63%) in communities where at least some recycling is offered feel that their jurisdiction is spending about the right amount on recycling, while more say they currently spend too little (14%) than say they are spending too much (9%). 
  • Finally, two-thirds (67%) of local leaders statewide from jurisdictions with at least some recycling services are either somewhat (37%) or very (30%) satisfied with the current recycling opportunities available. By contrast, just under a quarter (24%) from communities with no access to recycling services are somewhat (18%) or very (6%) satisfied with their lack of services.