Priority Waste became Flint's waste management provider on Oct. 1, 2021. (Carmen Nesbitt | Flint Beat)

Flint, MI—At this month’s Flint Neighborhoods United meeting, Priority Waste presented its first report since taking over the city’s waste management services in October 2021.

The report focused on the company’s service highlights, but also on guidelines to help Flint residents better manage their waste and recycling pick up.

According to the report, Priority hired 37 people to cover Flint’s trash and recycling collection before starting on Oct. 1, 2021. Of those 37 hires, 20 are Flint residents. 

Priority also coordinated a blight removal initiative back in October, deploying an additional 25 trucks each Saturday to pick up over 750 tons of blight materials across all nine wards—part of the company’s promise to help the city fight blight when it was selected.

But Dan Venet, Director of Municipal Relations for Priority Waste LLC, said the goal of the report went beyond just the positives of the first few months, as there are still things he and his staff have to learn about Flint, and vice versa.

“We want to make sure that we’re being as transparent as possible with the goods and the bads—and really ‘the bads’ being the change in process that everybody’s learning from,” said Venet.

Alongside blight elimination, which Venet said Priority would continue actively working on with the city, many residents had questions about recycling.

Venet noted that, under Priority, Flint residents were responsible for providing their own recycling bin, which can be any container between 18 to 96 gallons.

“Otherwise, all that we require is that it has a label that marks it as recycling,” Venet said.

At the FNU meeting, a representative from Keep Genesee County Beautiful said the organization is currently providing such recycling stickers free of charge to residents. Interested residents are encouraged to call 810-931-7581 to coordinate.

Venet also noted that not all residents have the option to recycle at their property, as many apartment and mixed-use complexes only have waste dumpsters available. 

Residents in this situation are instead asked to take their recyclable materials to the large, yellow Priority dumpster in City Hall’s parking lot on 7th Street.

“It’s true for anybody in Flint,” Venet said. “Whether it be an apartment or maybe a business owner that has recycling from their business that they want to get processed that way as opposed to throwing it in the trash: so as long as it’s Flint residents that are utilizing it, it is available to them.”

When asked about the importance of recycling despite news of materials going to landfills anyway, Venet said this:

“We do our part, and I think that all of the major haulers in Michigan do their part, to do things the right way. We take it to the proper facilities—the material recovery facilities that are licensed to store and process recycled materials. What happens from there is based off of the current market.”

For Flint’s recycling, Venet said Priority works with SOCCRA, a municipal corporation in Oakland County.

“So you’re getting input from municipal leaders, telling the facility how it should be run and making that cognitive effort to do things the right way,” Venet said. “Which I think makes it much more effective, as opposed to it being a private business where they’re looking more for profit.”

Many of the other recycling, trash, and bulk pick up guidelines reviewed during Priority’s report can be found in the company’s brochure

Heather Griffin, Flint’s waste services coordinator, also provided a list of drop-off locations for special types of waste, like automotive, construction, and household waste and recycling.

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....