DEQ Sets Kickoff for 2016 Recycle by Design Challenge

LANSING — The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has announced a Feb. 15, 2016 kickoff for a new team challenge to develop innovative strategies to increase the state’s residential recycling rate.

The challenge, called Recycle by Design, is one of the key initiatives of Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to double residential recycling in Michigan. The 12-month challenge will provide incentives to local and regional public-private partnership teams to develop strategies to increase recycling.

Michiganders return 93 percent of their bottles and cans to the store. But on every other reusable product – glass, paper, plastics, metals, organics – the state has fallen behind. According to the recent Michigan Recycling Index, prepared by the Michigan Recycling Coalition and Ann Arbor-based Resource Recycling Systems, Michigan’s overall recycling rate is only 15 percent, lower than every other Great Lakes state, and far behind the national average of 34 percent.

Recycle by Design will foster a grassroots, bottom-up approach that very early in the process encourages the private sector to work together with the public sector to develop an approach based on community need, private sector deliverability, and overall value for money. Under Recycle by Design, private sector initiatives will be matched with local and regional public sector ambitions.

The idea for Recycle by Design was itself born of a public-private partnership between the DEQ, Michigan Recycling Coalition and the Governor’s Recycling Council and their private-sector partners IMG Rebel and RRS. Partially funded by the DEQ, Recycle by Design will support teams both technically and financially through a multi-phase process to advance business-driven, shovel-ready proposals that improve Michigan’s recycling infrastructure.

The three and a half months remaining until the Feb. 15, 2016 kickoff will serve as an important launch period to allow time for potential challengers to more fully develop the ideas and partnerships necessary to accomplish the goals of the challenge. Additionally, the Recycle by Design partners will continue to develop the groundwork for building successful teams and reach out to the foundations, trade associations and private sector partners that can provide the funding necessary to make the challenge a statewide success.

To set the stage for the challenge, the Michigan Recycling Coalition will host the first Michigan Recycling Hackathon Thursday, Nov. 5 at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids. The Hackathon, in partnership with Consumers Energy and Aquinas College, is an intensive, facilitated development process to generate new ideas around increasing recycling in the state. It will also serve as a networking platform to begin to form potential teams for the Recycle by Design Challenge. Anyone interested in the Recycle by Design Challenge is encouraged to attend. Visit this link to register.

Starting with the Hackathon, the Recycle by Design partners will gather input from potential teams during the next three and a half months. This input will be important in determining the challenge’s overall timeline.

A successful Recycle by Design Challenge depends on the full financial support of both private and not-for-profit funding. Interested funders can reach out directly to the Recycle by Design team at

More details on the challenge can be found at the Recycle by Design website,

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