Zero Waste

Zero Waste

Zero waste is the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.

The concept of a “zero waste city” includes a 100 percent recycling rate and recovery of all resources from waste materials.

The zero-waste design principle goes beyond recycling to focus first on reducing wastes and reusing products and then recycling and composting the rest. This is part of the circular economy.

Recycling and Waste Removal

Curbside mixed recycling is offered to residents free of charge via the Southeast Oakland County Resource Recovery Association (SOCRRA). To participate, simply purchase a recycling bin from the Department of Public Works and set it at the curb on your regular trash day.

Curbside recycling is single-stream, meaning there is no need to sort your items. All items get recycled together and are sorted at SOCRRA's facility. Curious about what goes in your cart? Learn about everything that can be recycled curbside with the Curbside Recycling Guide below:

Have a question about an item not listed above? Check out SOCRRA's Waste Wizard Tool.

For information about garbage and recycling schedules, guidelines, and more, visit the Garbage, Recycling, and Waste Removal page.

SOCRRA Drop-Off Center

For all mixed recycling items, cardboard, styrofoam, scrap metal, paints, chemicals, and electronics, visit the SOCRRA Drop Off Center. The drop-off center is open and free to the public by appointment early. To make an appointment, please click here.

If you're looking for additional electronic recycling options, you can visit the SOCRRA Drop-off Center, Ecycle in Southfield, or ERG Environmental Services in Livonia.

For information on plastic bags and film, click here.

Household Hazardous Waste Disposal  

SOCRRA's Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Center is open by appointment only. Drop-Off Center is located at  995 Coolidge, Troy, MI (between 14 Mile and Maple).  

Items such as batteries, medical items, fertilizer, old medication, cleaning products, ammonia and bleach, latex and oil paints, glues, compact fluorescent bulbs, and more all require special handling and safe disposal and should never be placed in the trash. Visit SOCRRA’s Website here to view proper drop-off instructions. A self-service paper shredder is also available by appointment.

Looking for waste information at the State level? Check out the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) website. Here is a fun video they created on recycling.

Recycling Tips and Tricks
  • Think before you shop. Ask yourself, "Do I need this? Will I use this? Could I borrow this or purchase it second-hand? Where will I store this? How will I dispose of it?" View the EPA infographic for more information.
  • Understand the basics of reducing and reusing.
  • Donate your used goods to prevent additional waste from being sent to landfills. Find donation resources here.

Composting and Zero Waste Efforts

38% of the disposed waste in Michigan is organic material, and nearly half of this is food waste. We can help keep food products out of the trash by composting them at home.

  • Keeping food waste from being sent to landfills and creating greenhouse gas emissions
  • Enriching the soil, which creates a healthy product that is full of nutrients, which reduces the need for chemical fertilizers
  • Holding moisture in the soil, which allows for less watering
Greens vs. Browns

Greens (nitrogen) + Browns (carbon) + Water (moist pile) + Time = Nutritious compost that is ready to add to your garden and feed your plants

  • Greens: moist, nitrogen-rich items like food scraps, eggshells, grass clippings, coffee grounds, etc.
  • Browns: dry, carbon-rich items like leaves, straw, dead plant clippings, newspaper, sawdust, wood chips, soiled napkins, and paper plates

To comply with Ferndale City Ordinance, compost piles shall not exceed four feet by eight feet or six feet in diameter and four feet in height.

  • There is no one right way to compost! Though the systems available have different costs and benefits, all can be successful.
  • Be sure not to add any dairy, meat scraps, fats, oils, or animal waste.
  • Remember, a pile of only food waste will not break down into compost. Instead, it will rot, attracting pests and releasing odors. Adding more browns than greens will ensure a balanced pile that will break down properly.
  • Adding alternate layers of brown and green material is best. The brown layer should be twice as thick as the green layer with no food showing.
  • Curious about how to add other zero waste practices to your lifestyle? View our Zero Waste Youtube playlist.

City-wide Efforts

The City launched a Compost Pilot Program in the fall of 2021 for residents and businesses. Composting is a sustainable method of disposal intended to reduce the amount of food waste being sent to landfills. All food waste collected will be taken to a certified facility to be composted. Site usage, tonnage collected, contamination issues, and cost will be monitored during the one-year pilot program and a recommendation will be made in the fall of 2022 for the future of this program. For more information about the program, visit the Compost Pilot Program page.

Additionally, the City has also taken steps to add zero waste practices to City facilities. Currently, City Hall is composting paper towels and other waste materials throughout the facility. The Fire Stations also compost food waste from their kitchens. Additionally, the City is developing zero-waste practices for future events.


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