At the October 11 Gilmore Township Board meeting, the unstoppable Marlene Wood-Zylstra, Benzie County’s recycling and solid waste coordinator, made a revelatory presentation with a bagful of garbage. And she apparently wowed the County Commissioners as well. Beginning in January, plastics of all numbers (1 through 7) will be recyclable, potentially saving families hundreds of dollars a year in garbage bag fees. At an increased cost to the county (and taxpayers) of just $3 per family per year, the expanded program still falls below the mandated $25 per household cap on recycling costs, at $22 per family per year. Marlene’s $3 garbage bag was full of items that soon won’t have to go there: meat trays and egg cartons; McDonald’s salad containers; pellet fuel, salt, birdseed, and other plastic bags and wrappings; a plastic orange juice jug, often mistakenly thought to be currently recyclable; milk cartons and juice boxes; and plastic plant containers. Only items numbered 1, 2, and 5 are accepted in the current program, and if you make a mistake, Marlene is the one who goes and pulls it out of the bin—otherwise the volume pushes the county over its contracted limit. “[As of January] you don’t have to get your magnifying glass out anymore, because if it’s got a recycling logo, which modern packaging all does, and there’s a number in the middle, we’ll take it,” she said. As if that weren’t convenient enough, plastic, metal, and paper will all be collected in the same bin, so you only have to sort out your glass. If enough people take advantage of recycling and volume skyrockets, we may go over our contracted limit with the hauling company, American Waste, but they’ve kindly agreed to keep the fee at $3 for the next two years, the remainder of our service agreement. For now, this means fewer $3 garbage bags every week, and fewer trips to the curb.