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Michigan commits to $97 million investment into recycling

FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2016, file photo, crushed plastic bottles sit in a bale following sorting at the Mid-America Recycling plant, in Lincoln, Neb. Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo and Keurig Dr. Pepper are investing $100 million to improve U.S. bottle recycling and processing. (Francis Gardler/The Journal-Star via AP, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2016, file photo, crushed plastic bottles sit in a bale following sorting at the Mid-America Recycling plant, in Lincoln, Neb. Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo and Keurig Dr. Pepper are investing $100 million to improve U.S. bottle recycling and processing. (Francis Gardler/The Journal-Star via AP, File) (COPYRIGHT 2016 - LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR)

LANSING, Mich. – A group of environmental, political and business leaders in Michigan announced an initiative Monday to invest in recycling infrastructure and eventually triple the state’s recycling rate.

The NextCycle Michigan initiative has committed $97 million since last year in state and private funds to recycling projects with partners such as Goodwill Industries, Keurig Dr. Pepper, Henry Ford Health System and Meijer. These funds are to be used to support efforts to recycle products and divert materials in manufacturing from landfills.

The state also has awarded $4.9 million in Renew Michigan Grants for 45 communities in the state. Both of the efforts will help the state lay the groundwork for ambitious sustainability goals such as carbon neutrality by 2050, said Liesl Clark, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

“The NextCycle Michigan initiative and the Renew Michigan Fund mark the largest push in state history to promote recycling activities that divert materials from Michigan landfills, boost local economies and support EGLE's climate change priorities through reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” Clark said.

The Renew Michigan grants will fund community efforts to recycle across Michigan. A few cities including Detroit, which is getting $20,000, are receiving grants for recycling bins, while several businesses are receiving funds to improve recycling sorting efforts, battery recycling, upgrading and expanding recycling facilities and develop new technologies to reuse materials.

Meijer, a Michigan-based retailer and NextCycle partner, diverts 100,000 tons of materials from landfills through recycling annually, said Vik Srinivasan, Meijer senior vice president. In partnership with Next Cycle, Meijer will build infrastructure to set an example for businesses to replicate statewide.

Michigan has tried to make progress in materials recycling in recent years with a goal to increase the state's recycling rate from 15% to 30% by 2025, but Liz Browne, director of EGLE Materials Management Division, said the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed efforts. She said she's confident the state can still reach its goal as the rate has climbed to about 18.5%. The next goal for Michigan is get the recycling rate up to 45%.

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Anna Liz Nichols is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.