Winter 2015
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Inside this Issue
E2P2 Merger ~ Recycle-by-Design ~ Detroit Solar Trash Compactors ~ Zero Waste Events ~ EPA Green Business Award ~ Volunteer Opportunities 
PARTNER SPOTLIGHT: Chelsea District Library
   The Chelsea District Library has served the Chelsea Community and surrounding areas since the 1930s, reaching a district of over 15,000 people. The library’s initial collection began with 22 books. By 2014, that collection had grown to 73,623 items, of which 61,407 were print and 12,216 were media materials. The library also features engaging community areas, such as the KidSpot - a hands-on activity and program area for young children - and the TeenSpace - an area for teens to read and study with computers, comfortable seating, and a variety of teen-oriented books and magazines. There is also a beautiful outdoor green space located right on Chelsea's bustling Main Street, with a Reading Garden and shade pergola. The library has grown a reputation far beyond their original mission of bringing books to the public and now stands as a pillar of the Chelsea community, having earned the Best Small Library in America award in 2008 and the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce Large Business Leadership Award in 2014. The Chelsea District Library is also a long-time member of Washtenaw County's Waste Knot Program and, as such, the staff, volunteers, and visitors are committed to environmental responsibility. 
   Linda Ballard, the library's interim director, explains that in addition to daily double-sided printing and the reuse of paper products and staff office supplies, the library has always offered ample recycling opportunities in their facility and at their public events. Committed volunteers are often seen sorting through waste bins to ensure the highest recycling rates possible. The library "closes the recycling loop" even more by purchasing post-consumer recycled-content paper supplies, and engaging in efforts to phase out Styrofoam purchasing, a goal that is well-supported and advocated for by many residents of the Chelsea community.
    To reduce plastic waste, library employees are  encouraged to 
use reusable water bottles. Through the library’s ’Re-usable Bag Only’ Policy, visitors must either bring their own bag or purchase an inexpensive reusable cloth bag at the checkout desk. Profits from reusable bag sales go   toward the Friends of the Chelsea District Library, and those who join the Friends receive a complimentary reusable bag! The library also takes pride in recycling electronic waste and maintaining Recycling Guidelines information for staff and visitors.
   Pursuant to energy-use reduction goals, the facility utilizes a sensor lighting system, and an advanced centralized heating system allows 30 different zones of heating and cooling to be programmed, reducing energy use by keeping temperatures low at night and higher during hours of use. Also underway is a facility-wide conversion to LED lighting, which began in 2014 with the conversion of outdoor and some hard to reach indoor lighting, and is currently in a second phase encompassing the office and staff areas. By the end of the conversion, the entire library will utilize solely LED lighting & expects to reduce lighting electricity use by up to 75%.
   The Chelsea District Library is truly an asset to the Washtenaw County and Chelsea community, and is a key example of how environmental efforts from the ground-up can make a noticeable difference for an organization and community. Linda Ballard acutely points out that libraries are, in their essence, one of the original institutions of recycling: they are places to recycle books, as well as ideas - Ideas that foster the progressive, inventive, and creative solutions for our communities that are so crucial to preserving our environment.
DTE Introduces Detroit's First Solar Trash Compactors
    On August 21st, DTE Energy installed the city of Detroit's first solar-powered trash compactors and recycling units. The pilot program is a joint effort between DTE's Energize Detroit, and Bigbelly Solar Inc., a company founded in 2003 that has since placed 30,000 solar-powered solid waste units in 47 countries around the globe.
    Bigbelly trash compactors and recycling units internally compact solid waste as it is collected, increasing capacity to approximately 150 gallons, or five times that of standard trash and recycling bins. The solar panels on the units utilize sun energy to continuously charge the system, which wirelessly notifies Waste Management when bins need to be emptied. The wireless communication feature, in combination with the increased bin capacity, significantly decreases the number of trash pickups and associated costs and fuel emissions. The units also aid in litter and pest reduction, and educate communities about the potential of renewable energy and "sidewalk recycling."
    Bigbelly also contracts with universities and healthcare systems, a huge area of potential improvement for Washtenaw County and specifically, the University of Michigan. At the University of Georgia, 150 open top waste stations were recently replaced with 30 Bigbelly units, and reportedly have been very well received by students and citizens alike. Boston University, MIT, University of Washington Seattle, and University of California Santa Barbara have also made the transition to Bigbelly units, and have already seen reductions in waste management costs. The introduction of this technology in America's cities and universities is certainly exciting and, if adopted, has the potential to redefine waste management in Washtenaw County as well.
For more information on Bigbelly, visit or
EPA Awards $1.9 Million to Small 'Green' Business
     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently distributed nearly $2 million to 19 small businesses across the nation. The awards support the research, development, and commercializing of technologies and programs that will help address critical environmental issues.
   Funding for these 'green businesses' stems from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, a seed fund established under the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982 which involves eleven federal agencies. The EPA's segment of the SBIR program focuses on funding early-stage capital for innovative small companies in the "air, water, climate change, waste and manufacturing" tech areas. 
        The 19 companies awarded in 2015 each receive a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract for up to $100,000 for purposes of research and development. The projects represent efforts in 12 different states, including Metna Co., a Michigan-based company which seeks to develop sustainable, low-cost, ultra-high performance concrete. If companies awarded the initial contract succeed in research and development, the SBIR program provides the opportunity for further funding.
For more information on the SBIR program and the 2015 awardees, visit
The Waste Knot Program has merged with Community Partners for Clean Streams into an umbrella program called the  Environmental Excellence Partnership Program, or  E2P2! All members of the respective programs are automatically part of E2Pwhich partners with the County’s Pollution Prevention Program to recognize and reward Washtenaw County’s environmental business leaders.

Participation in E2P2 is completely voluntary and free!

E2P boasts a network of  450 (and growing!) Washtenaw County-based organizations that demonstrate leader-ship in the areas of water quality, waste reduction & pollution prevention. 
In partnership with two long-time Waste Knot Partners Recycle Ann Arbor and Amcor Rigid Plastics headquartered in Manchester, MI,  Washtenaw County has received grant funding from the MDEQ's Pollution Prevention Grant Program for a county-wide Zero Waste Events Initiative. The project seeks to provide recycling and compost opportunities at community events. The goal is to provide 45,000 event-goers with zero waste opportunities & education by 2017. If your organization is interested in Zero Waste Services for an upcoming event, please contact us! We'd love to partner to help facilitate your solid waste diversion goals!  
Recycle by Design is a new initiative from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan Recycling Coalition, and Governor Snyder's Recycling Council. Announced on May 5th, 2015 at the Governor's Recycling Summit, the initiative was created as an "open competitive design process" to develop innovative, regionally based recycling proposals. Recycle by Design grew from the Governor's aspirations to double Michigan's recycling rate to 30% within two years, and will be funded through public-private partnerships to create lasting improvements in statewide recycling performance.


By creating an "open to interpretation," challenge-based framework for the initiative, Recycle by Design encourages the collaboration of the private sector, local communities, regional political bodies, and international knowledge. This bottom-up approach is key, and is intended to create a recycling program tailored for, and created by, Michigan's specific needs and available public resources.

To get involved, visit, or follow @RbD_Michigan on Twitter.
  1. January 23, 2015: Join the Huron River Watershed Council for their annual Winter Stonefly Search. Turn over rocks, tromp through our creeks and learn how stonefly's are indicators of healthy streams. Kids are welcome! Make sure you register by January 19th, more information here:
  2. February 13, 2016: The Friends of the Rouge will also be hosting a Winter Stonefly Search. Register by January 29th to participate. More information at
  3. Year Round: Is your organization looking for a group volunteer opportunity? Volunteer with us in one of our public rain gardens. We will be dividing and transplanting native plants, scattering seeds and removing invasive species so our rain gardens can continue to be beautiful and helpful in managing stormwater. Email Catie at to plan a spring workday with your group.

Thank you for everything you have done this past year to keep our rivers clean!

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