Ann Arbor exploring reduced trash pickup to reduce carbon emissions, limit climate change effects

Posted at 7:11 AM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 13:05:35-04

(WXYZ) — The city of Ann Arbor is exploring the idea of reducing weekly trash pickup in an effort to combat climate change.

While not everyone is on board with it, some say something needs to be done before it's too late.

City officials say reducing trash pickup is just a conversation starter on how to reduce the city's carbon footprint, with a lot to take into consideration.

"I would have to have an additional garbage, can but worst than that is that it would be very stinky," Ann Arbor resident Marcia Polenberg said.

"It's just me and my fiancé and our two cats, so the amount of trash we generate would fit in line with a more dispersed cadence," another resident, Meghan Cleary, said. "So I'm for that, especially with the carbon emissions reductions opportunity."

Other residents say it would be problematic, especially during the U of M student move-in and move-out because the trash bins tend to be very full on those days.

Right now, pickup is once a week, but the city's energy commissioner, John Mirksy, is drafting a resolution for city staff to explore bi-monthly pickup to reduce carbon emissions.

"It's nothing that's coming up for a vote before council," Councilmember Lisa Disch said. "What we need to do is have people thinking about consumption and have people making robust use of the services that the city already provides for recycling and composting, and we need to expand those services."

University of Michigan professor Gregory Keoleian said if measures aren't taken, we will start seeing more extreme weather events, from drought to forest fires and flooding.

"We're actually in a climate crisis. There's an emergency to reduce these greenhouse gas emissions because they are creating adverse effects on our environment," he said. "So these are all threats that we are going to be facing in the coming decades and we need to take early action to avoid these most adverse effects of climate change."

City officials say trash pickup every other week isn't about saving money, but strictly about climate change.

The idea comes up within the city plan called the A2ZERO Climate Action Plan.