The Ecology Center created Michigan's first recycling drop-off station at Ann Arbor's Arborland shopping center in 1970. Seven years later, community activists started Michigan's first curbside recycling program called Recycle Ann Arbor. Soon after, the curbside program and Recycle Ann Arbor were brought under the Ecology Center's umbrella, and over time, they grew into a nationally recognized leader in commercial and residential recycling, dedicated to providing education and innovative services in the collection, processing, and distribution of recycling materials.

Today, Recycle Ann Arbor is organized as a wholly owned nonprofit subsidiary of the Ecology Center. It operates Michigan's largest community Drop-Off Station, the ReUse Center, the Ann Arbor curbside-recycling program, and the Recovery Yard, the state's only nonprofit construction recycling program.

In the 1970s and 1980s, community-based recyclers were the only providers of municipal recycling services, and hundreds were founded to follow the lead of the Ecology Center, Recycle Ann Arbor, and other recycling pioneers. Today, Fortune 500 landfill companies provide basic recycling services throughout the United States in response to public demand, but their lobbyists disparage recycling, and their business models actively discourage it.

In 2015, Recycle Ann Arbor and three other large nonprofit recyclers constitute what's left of the community-based recycling movement in the United States. Allied with for-profit recycling processors and progressive policy makers, they're among the country's leading voices for zero waste and strong recycling programs.


Recycle Ann Arbor launched its comprehensive A-Z recycling guide in February 2015. In July 2019 it began work to transform the recycling guide to a zero waste guide, offering zero waste options and recycle right tips to items within the guide. This grant-funded project will also add the City of Ann Arbor Curbside Compost guidelines to its database of searchable results by fall of 2019.  By collaborating with community members and municipalities, there is the potential to include other regions beyond the Ann Arbor Area to the guide's results in the coming years. 

Published on March 30, 2017


News  |  June 10, 2020
For Recycle Ann Arbor Curbside Driver James Lipford, the thing he likes best about his job is the community he serves. He especially values when people tell him and his colleagues how much they appreciate the work. Being safe as possible is the major challenge on his mind..
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Residents fought to keep the plant from opening, and then to shut it down, for thirty years. As a health hazard and noxious neighbor, the incinerator drew protest from citizens, environmental coalitions, and Canadian leaders across the river since planning began in the mid 1970s