(Image of cardboard recycling)

Photo: CCRI Task Force member David Hall (left) with MTU's Sociology of Environment Class

Working towards a Zero Waste Community

The mission of the Copper Country Recycling Initiative (CCRI) Task Force is to create a Zero Waste Community in one of the most remote areas of the State. To act as a demonstration project for other rural recycling programs, envisioning a community that not only recycles, but also creates less waste in our everyday lives.

This includes donating items for reuse, composting, buying in bulk, using less packaging, as well as purchasing items made with recycled materials to complete the waste stream circle.

Zero Waste may take 15-20 years to accomplish, but will be phased-in, beginning with a vigorous public education campaign and the introduction of public cardboard recycling stations.

Learn how Boulder, Colorado is working to become a zero waste community by reducing the waste they create and then reusing, recycling and composting most of what they throw away.

Located in Scarborough, a 25-year-old condominium is showing how zero waste is possible: with over 1000 residents, this building is generating only one dumpster of garbage per month.


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Even though recycling is exponentially cheaper than landfilling in both the short- and long-term, there are planning and political obstacles to overcome before the economic and ecological benefits can be realized.

  • Houghton County's transfer station, which opened in 2012, was not planned with recycling in mind, in contrast with the County's solid waste plan, which said we should invest in recycling.
  • The  $1.64 million bond Houghton County took out to pay for the transfer station was calculated to be paid off with trash collection fees, which means the County will need to find other ways to pay the bond — probably with tax money — if landfilled trash tonnage is reduced.
  • Houghton's trash goes to K&W Landfill in Ontonagon County, a commercial landfill owned by Waste Management, which charges by the pound and therefore makes more money with more landfilling. Compare that to the Marquette County Landfill where the county and its taxpayers are responsible for the landfill's long-term costs, promoting recycling.

Photo: K&W Landfill receiving Houghton County waste.

Current Projects

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Cardboard Recycling

Houghton County—Old Corrugated Cardboard (OCC) Recycling

The Copper Country Recycling Initiative (CCRI), with grant funding from the Department of Environmental  Quality (DEQ) Pollution Prevention Program, is working to establish a cardboard recycling facility and infrastructure improvements at the Houghton County Transfer Station.


One ton of recycled cardboard saves:

PROJECT GOAL: To increase annual recycling of OCC at Houghton County Transfer Station by 50% in Year 1 and by 75% in Year 2 in order to reduce solid waste going to the landfill, which will save money, prolong the life of the existing landfill, and safeguard natural resources.

  • Task 1: Launch public outreach program, including recycling education campaign in 9 area schools, focusing on 500 Fourth Grade Students
  • Task 2: Construct Recycling Facility
  • Task 3: Hire Recycling Attendant and Implement OCC Recycling at Houghton County Transfer Station
  • Task 4: Create satellite drop-off center for OCC in Chassell Township
  • Task 5: Launch Community-Wide Outreach and Recycling Campaign
  • Task 6: Evaluate Progress, Create Draft Phase II Community Recycling Plan Toward Zero Waste Community Goal

Read the detailed Work Plan >

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Houghton County Cardboard Recycling Guidelines

(PDF print file)

Acceptable Items:

  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Boxes made of paperboard such as shoe, cereal, or detergent boxes)
  • Brown grocery bags
  • Brown Kraft paper
  • Small amounts of tape staples, plastic windows on boxes ok

NOT Accepted:

  • No Pizza Boxes
  • No Styrofoam
  • No Bottles/Plastic or Glass
  • No paper products such as newspaper, magazines, or junk mail
  • No plastic or plastic bags
  • No grease or oil-saturated materials


All boxes should be free of food and flattened/broken down. Do NOT place recyclables in plastic bags.


Free for residential users. Commercial users must check with office for rates.

Phone 906.482.8827  |  17808 Erickson Drive Atlantic Mine, MI 49905
Hours of Operation


Contact Us

Photo: CCRI Task Force members participating in the HEET Energy Fair

If you're interested in learning more about the CCRI Task Force please contact us by email at coppercountryrecyclereuse@gmail.com.

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