In 2022, our dedicated team of passionate recycling enthusiasts embarked on a mission to divert dangerous and potentially valuable materials from landfills. Although it is hard work in an ever-changing landscape, we never shy away from a challenge. BARC is always determined to find a solution for every hard-to-recycle item by working together to make things better.

For the past 15 years, BARC has been working on advancing, piloting, and incubating innovative solutions for challenging recycling problems. In 2022, we learned a lot of valuable lessons. We are excited to use them to improve our processes, working conditions, and outcomes this year. With the combined help from our donors, customers, workers, volunteers, and the community here in Northern Michigan, we’re ready to pour all of our experience and knowledge into 2023. But first, let’s take a look back at 2022 to see all that we accomplished over the year with the help of all of you!

BARC 2022 Highlights: Recycling Stats

Manistee County Recycling

The BARC team got to oversee the Manistee County Recycling program in 2022! Approximately 414,000 lbs of recyclable materials were gathered over the year at eight different recycling collection sites across the county. This was a higher volume than in 2021. Our very own Karla Kasten-Smith, The Manistee County Recycling Coordinator, helped add two new recycling collection sites; Bear Lake & Pleasanton!

Plastic Recycling

Marina Film Plastic is used to protect and wrap boats during the off-season. Here at BARC, we ensure that this plastic material gets appropriately recycled. As a result, this year, we were able to divert approximately 146,320 lbs of Marina Film Plastic from landfills!

In 2022, we also introduced a new program that helps divert film plastics like grocery bags, bubble wrap, and #4 plastic packaging from landfills. We were able to recycle approximately 17,950 lbs of film plastics!

Electronics Recycling

Electronic waste must be disposed of or recycled correctly because it usually contain harmful chemicals. BARC is actively reducing Northern Michigan’s carbon footprint and repurposing e-waste materials with our electronics recycling program. In 2022, we were able to divert approximately 196,388 lbs of e-waste from landfills.

Refrigerator Recycling

In 2022, we received thousands of freon applications. That is because BARC is the place to turn to when you recycle an old refrigerator, freezer, dehumidifier, or air conditioner. A certified facility with special equipment and expertise must evacuate the freon in these household appliances. In addition to being the place to recycle refrigerators properly, we were able to recycle approximately 236,520 lbs of appliance sheet iron over the year.

Mattress Recycling

Recycling an old mattress might seem daunting, but we are here to help make that process painless! This year we recycled over 10,000 mattresses and box springs. We also take mattresses apart to reuse some parts in other production streams. For example, we used approximately 92,627 lbs of shotty and cotton from mattresses in 2022. In addition, we were also able to use approximately 132,020 lbs of metal.

Universal Waste & Cardboard Recycling

At BARC, we ensure that everyday materials like old batteries and light bulbs are appropriately recycled. In 2022, we recycled 8,129 batteries and 2,187 total lightbulbs. We also were able to recycle 751,100 lbs of old corrugated cardboard!

Zero Waste Events

In 2022, BARC helped make a total of 77 Zero Waste Events. We were able to work with individuals, companies, and organizations to create zero-waste events of all sizes. This included five fundraisers, 14 festivals, 21 weddings, 13 general public events, ten races, seven private events, and 7 HHW collection events. It was a busy and successful year for zero waste!

BARC Goals for 2023: Refocusing BARC Programs

We learned a lot of lessons in 2022 and are excited to take the necessary steps to refocus some of our most vital services in 2023.

BARC Composting Program

Composting is one of the fundamental ways to divert organic materials from our landfills. Over the years, our composting program has diverted thousands of tons of food waste from community institutions, restaurants, and grocery stores to local compost facilities. Unfortunately, due to staffing and equipment issues, we had to pause this program back in May 2022. However, we are working diligently to bring this program back and better than ever in 2023! Through conversations with concerned citizens, compost customers, and community stakeholders, we are advancing a collaborative solution with business, nonprofit, and municipal partners to expand our regional capacity to manage food waste beyond what BARC could ever have managed alone. To do this, we are fundraising to purchase a composting hauler with the help of donations from our supporters. If you want to support this mission, please make a composting donation here.

BARC Mattress Recycling Program

Mattress Recycling is a vital way to reclaim valuable materials vital to many other production streams. We have been disassembling mattresses by hand for years, so we’ve learned how valuable yet dangerous this process can be. Luckily, we secured a $500,000 grant in 2022 that will allow us to automate our mattress recycling process in 2023. In the next five years, our goal will be to quadruple the number of mattresses we can divert from landfills into reusable commodities! To learn more about what happens when you recycle a mattress with us, check out this BARC blog article on our process.

BARC De/Re-Construction Program

In 2019, we started a brave mission to “Recycle a House” through our De/Re-Construction Program. Through trial and error, we’re learning to innovate, partner, and collaborate to reclaim materials destined for landfill and reduce the need for virgin materials in the construction industry. Now that we have 16 jobs under our belt, we’ve found new opportunities to innovate with techniques like panel deconstruction that preserve materials and the energy that goes into assembling them. In 2023, we look forward to using this knowledge and experience to enhance our De/Re-Construction program and ultimately increase the number of materials we can divert from landfills.

Thank you for helping us create a greener Michigan in 2022. We are so grateful for our supporters who help us grow and create a more sustainable community. BARC looks forward to great things to come in 2023!