State posts strong recycling numbers|
|Wisconsin residents and businesses turned in another strong recycling performance in 2012, according to recent data compiled by the Department of Natural Resources.|
The information showed the state recovered about 750,000 tons of used paper products and food and beverage containers from residents and commercial establishments.
"Over the course of the year, the average Wisconsin household recirculated about 630 pounds of paper and containers—nearly the same weight as two upright pianos—back into the economy through recycling at home, at work and while out and about," Brad Wolbert, DNR recycling and solid waste section chief, said.
Wolbert added that recycling tonnages have held steady over the past five years in Wisconsin, despite the continued development of lighter food and beverage packaging as well as increases in on-line publishing.
Every year, counties, towns, cities and villages send reports to the DNR with data on the amount of recyclable paper and container products recycled by their residents.
Facilities that process these materials for recycling provide similar reports, and include information from commercial collections. The department combines the data in these reports to determine how much material was captured for recycling each year, target technical assistance to local communities and respond to information requests from legislators, public officials and citizens.
"Wisconsinites have a strong recycling ethic," Cynthia Moore, DNR recycling program coordinator, said. "In addition to the 750,000 tons cited in the report, many households and commercial businesses commonly recycle, reuse or compost additional materials such as scrap metal, appliances, batteries, yard trimmings, motor oil and filters, textiles, wood products, and food scraps."
Moore also noted that, on average, Wisconsinites recycle far more discarded paper and containers than state law requires. Over the past five years, residents have collected about 143 pounds per person of paper and containers, compared to the state's per-capita standard of 82 pounds for rural areas and 106 pounds for urban areas.
Agency recycling experts point to two important conveniences that generally lead to higher recycling participation and collection rates.
"First, more than 50 percent of the population now has access to 'single stream' recycling collection," Moore said. "This is where all recyclables are collected in a single bin, which is later sorted into different commodity types at a processing center."
Second, Moore said more than 50 percent of the population has access to curbside collection. Communities with greater than 5,000 residents are required under state law to provide curbside collection, and many smaller communities also offer curbside collection as a service to their residents.
Another factor state officials point to for the continued growth in recycling is the the state law that requires most electronic devices to be recycled. Electronics manufacturers help fund collection and processing of used household and school electronics under the DNR's E-Cycle Wisconsin program.
Also, under a new pilot program that began in Wisconsin in 2013, the DNR is recognizing the highest-performing community recycling programs for excellence in reducing costs and maximizing collection amounts.
In December the department gave out Recycling Excellence Awards to 50 local governments and the Ho-Chunk Nation, and intends to expand the recognition program in 2014 to help foster friendly competition and support local recycling efforts.
Chris Blahnik loads recyclables into the Waste Management hopper this week.