Hancock goes to single stream recycling

HANCOCK – Susan Burack moved to Hancock in 1986, and a few years later she became involved with efforts to get recycling in the city.

Burack, who is a former Hancock City Council member, said at first, the city wasn’t involved with recycling.

“In the early ’90s, there were citizens who did recycling,” she said.

The Keweenaw Food Co-Op offered space at the store on Ingot Street for residents who wanted to recycle, Burack said.

“It was a huge success,” she said.

Also in the early 1990s, Burack said some residents wanted the city council to get involved with recycling.

“There was a city committee that met,” she said. “We came up with the new plan.”

From that committee’s efforts, Burack said the city council created a curbside recycling program, which required residents to separate the various items to be recycled into individual clear plastic bags so workers picking up trash could see that only recyclables were in the bags.

Then, as now, Burack said Hancock was the only community in the Keweenaw Peninsula offering curbside recycling.

“When we started, we were very proud Hancock was offering recycling,” she said.

Over the years, the city had a contract with Waste Management, and the company’s workers took the recycling bags to its location on Enterprise Street in Houghton.

Hancock City Manager Glenn Anderson said the city no longer contracts with Waste Management, but curbside recycling is still offered.

“When we terminated with Waste Management, we continued it,” he said.

Separate trucks are used to collect the recycling materials, Anderson said.

After it’s brought to Houghton, Anderson said the recycling material is taken by Waste Management to a facility in Green Bay to be separated.

Anderson said residents no longer need to separate recyclable waste into different bags, but they still need to be put into clear plastic bags.

There hasn’t been a problem with residents putting regular trash into the recycling bags, Anderson said.

“We’re doing well so far,” he said.

Burack said she was concerned the city hadn’t adequately informed residents of the fact Waste Management had switched to single stream, and the city’s pamphlet about recycling didn’t indicate single stream was being used, so she began an effort to get it updated.

“I think it’s very important to adjust to change,” she said.

The new pamphlet indicates what can and cannot be recycled, and has information about where to take other items, which may be recycled, but which the city won’t pick up.

Burack said recycling is important because it saves city residents money by reducing the amount of trash taken to a landfill, and because it saves energy by reducing the amount of new items which need to be manufactured.

“It significantly reduces the amount of trash,” she said.

Burack said she thinks recycling in Hancock can be a self-promoting program.

“If people saw their neighbors do it, they might decide to do it,” she said.

For more information about the Hancock recycling program, call 482-1121.