Schupan looks at recycling in Michigan

Tom Emmerich, chief operating officer of Schupan, based in Kalamazoo, Mich., and president of its Schupan Recycling business unit, says policymakers in his home state have the opportunity to make changes that could increase Wolverine’s state recycling volume and rate.

In the interview with Russ White of East Lansing, Michigan-based National Public Radio affiliate WKAR, Schupan was asked several questions about the health of recycling in Michigan.

Emmerich says Schupan Radio Station has its roots in industrial scrap metal recycling and now has five business units, with Schupan Recycling focusing on recycling beverage containers in a state that has a deposit system or a bottle bill. Emmerich describes this business unit by saying, “We handle a large percentage of all containers in the state of Michigan.”

Asked about municipal or curbside recycling in Michigan, Emmerich comments, “Are we behind other states? We absolutely do. We have a municipal and recycling rate of 18%. That’s up a few percentage points, but it still lags Minnesota and Wisconsin and a few other Midwestern states.

In terms of beverage container recycling, he adds, “We’ve relied on the Deposit Deposit Act as our flagship recycling program in Michigan, and it’s been incredibly successful. There is no reason to consider changing this.

However, recycling across Michigan could benefit from increased funding or policy changes, Emmerich says. “It really comes down to funding,” he said of the 18% recycling rate increase. “How much money is the state ready to hand over? And warrants. Michigan really has no mandate on banning certain things from landfills. Other states do. States that have much higher recycling rates.

Politically, Emmerich comments, “I testified for two different bills, House Bill 4443 and House Bill 4444. These bills were pretty much introduced by the beverage community where they seek credit for income tax of half a cent per container which would help them reinvest in the deposit system. Distributors are responsible for the program. A lot of people don’t understand this. From day one, they initiate the deposit. They are required to pick up containers at retail and recycle them properly.

Noting that Schupan Recycling is “hired” to “help them with this process,” adds Emmerich, “costs have increased over the years and money has been taken away from distributors in the early to mid-90s. They didn’t have not ask for a penny from the state to help them cover infrastructure costs. Our costs have increased by more than 25% in the last five or six years.”

In Schupan’s case, Emmerich says the company needs to make “a significant investment in our Wixom [Michigan] operation that we built 16 years ago. If we don’t, then the cost of maintenance will just go up and our ability to serve retailers and the consumer will go down, and no one will be happy about that.

A transcript of the interview between White and Emmerich can be found at this webpage.