Central Wisconsin Recycling Collective recognized ‘recycling excellence’

By Patrick Lynn

A partnership between the solid waste departments in Portage and Marathon counties has resulted in recognition by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Citing a new to educate residents about what can be recycled and what cannot, the two counties partnered with the Stevens Point-based nonprofit Recycling Connections to create a unique education program.

The group launched the Central Wisconsin Recycling Collective, a regional education program that will spread the message, “To Bin or Not to Bin” via print and social media, television, direct mailings, and a new website delivering “fun, easy-to-understand, and up-to-date messages,” the group said in an email.

In recognition of the education campaign, the CWRC was recently awarded DNR’s 2020 Recycling Excellence Award for Projects and Initiatives.

In a letter to the group, Brad Wolbert, director for the DNR Waste and Material Management Bureau, said the CWRC “exceeded DNR expectations and provided a higher standard of service to your residents.”

CWRC will be highlighted by DNR in a variety of media releases in conjunction with the upcoming America Recycles Day—Nov. 15—celebration.

“People want to recycle right, but not everything is meant to be recycled in the recycling bin,” said Amanda Haffele, director of the Portage County Solid Waste Department.

Haffele operates the Material Recovery Facility, which operates as a primary processor of the region’s collected recyclables. When residents put items like plastic bags or large plastic toys in the recycling bin, it causes significant disruption to the processing at the MRF, costing more to recycle, she said.

Karin Sieg, executive director of Recycling Connections, has spent decades offering recycling outreach and education in both counties.

“When the Recycling Law was passed in the early 1990s the recycling message was much different than it is today…recycling has evolved,” she said. That evolution caused confusion, so education is important, she added.

Marathon Co. doesn’t operate a MRF but it does work directly with the many haulers who collect recyclables from the region’s businesses, cities, villages, and towns, according to Meleesa Johnson, director of the Marathon Co. Solid Waste Department. Johnson also works as a Portage Co. Board Supervisor and Stevens Point City Councilwoman.

For more information go to https://cwrecyclingcollective.com.