Madison residents will have to find new outlets if they want to recycle plastic bags.
The city announced Tuesday it will no longer accept plastic film and bags in curbside recycling bins or at drop-off sites because of market constraints.
Starting next month, residents can sign up for classes to learn the intricacies of the local recycling system, what can and can’t be recycled, and how to reduce their overall waste.
Plastic film can get tangled in automated sorting machinery, leading to shutdowns at processing centers, but Madison had been accepting bundled bags. But the city said its processor, Pellitteri Waste Systems, can no longer sell those bags.
Company vice president Danielle Pellitteri said the main problem was contamination.
“As China stopped importing lower grade film, the markets started to dry up, and consequently now only clean aggregated plastic film is marketable,” Pellitteri said.
But it’s hard to keep the bags clean in a truck full of used cans, bottles and other recyclable materials.
“We gave it our best try ... but are unable to continue the program,” Pellitteri said.
Pellitteri said the change would affect other local municipalities as recycling contracts come due.
Madison recycling coordinator Bryan Johnson said the city is working to find an alternative way to offer plastic bag recycling, though it’s unlikely that bags will ever be allowed back in curbside carts.
The city advises residents who want to recycle plastic grocery bags to bring empty, clean and dry bags to retail collection points, which include Pick ‘n Save, Festival, Hy-Vee, Kohl’s, Target, Metcalfe’s, Walmart and Woodman’s. Some food pantries and thrift stores also accept used bags for reuse.
The state Department of Natural Resources encourages consumers to use paper bags, reusable cloth bags or to skip the bag altogether.
Republican lawmakers in 2016 passed a bill that prohibits municipalities from banning or charging fees for plastic bags or any other packaging.
For more information on what can and can’t be placed in recycling carts, visit www.cityofmadison.com/recycling.
6 potential candidates to replace Barry Alvarez as Wisconsin's athletic director
Current position: Deputy athletic director, Wisconsin
A former UW offensive lineman, McIntosh played for Alvarez’s teams from 1996-99. As a senior, he was a consensus All-American, helped the Badgers win a second consecutive Rose Bowl and became a first-round draft choice of the Seattle Seahawks. A neck injury ended his pro career after three seasons.
McIntosh joined the department in December 2014 and was named deputy athletic director in July 2017. McIntosh has been Alvarez’s right-hand man for years, learning at his side and running a number of day-to-day operations. He oversees recruiting and business development among other aspects of the department.
McIntosh’s knowledge of the department will carry weight, and being Alvarez’s top choice doesn’t hurt, but he’ll need to beat out a national search to earn the top job.
Current position: Athletic director, Northern Illinois University
With more than 20 years as either an athletic director or high-level administrator on his resume, Frazier would have a wealth of experience to draw upon leading the Badgers. He would also be the first African American athletic director in UW’s history and has a long track record of pushing inclusion goals.
Frazier moved between a number of senior leadership roles at UW before becoming Alvarez’s deputy AD in 2011. McIntosh replaced him after Frazier took the top job at NIU.
How much Frazier could help UW programs elevate on the field would be a fair question — NIU’s top programs haven’t had much success the past five seasons.
Current position: Athletic director, University of Idaho
After serving a variety of roles in the Badgers’ athletic department for 25 years, including nearly 15 as an associate athletic director, Gawlik has been in her current post for 18 months. If hired, Gawlik would be the first female athletic director at UW.
Gawlik was in leadership positions on many Big Ten Conference and NCAA committees in her time at UW, so she has knowledge of working with decision-makers at the conference and national levels. She was the Badgers’ senior woman administrator for 14 years, overseeing 10 sports in her time.
With relationships across the department, she’d be a strong candidate if she was interested, but she may want to continue the work she’s started at Idaho.
Current position: Executive Vice President of Football Operations, NFL
One of the first standouts Alvarez had as UW’s football coach, Vincent turned a 14-year career in the league into a successful career as an executive. If hired, he’d be the first African American athletic director in UW history.
Vincent was the president of the NFL Players Association, and has served on the board of directors of the University of Wisconsin Foundation. He’d know the people to speak to when it comes to fundraising and has a list of credentials as a leader.
This would be an outside-the-box hire for the Badgers, especially with no college administration experience on his resume. But if Vincent is interested in leaving the NFL, UW may listen.
Current position: Athletic director, Iowa State University
In lifting the Cyclones out of the doldrums, Pollard has drawn rave reviews for his work as the leader of the department. On top of his successful push to grow Iowa State’s athletic department — tripling its operating budget and investing heavily in facilities — he made one of the best coaching hires in major college football in Matt Campbell. He’s also been able to keep Campbell from being plucked by another program by negotiating lucrative contract extensions.
Iowa State men’s basketball has hit a skid the last four years, going 50-72 and making the NCAA tournament just once, which led to the firing of coach Steve Prohm this spring.
He’s won awards from national organizations like the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and is a member of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee.
Pollard was an associate AD at UW from 1998-2003 and the deputy AD from 2003-05 before taking the top spot in Ames. It may be difficult to lure him away from Iowa State, especially since he signed an extension through 2026 on Monday, but the Oshkosh native could be drawn to his home state.
Current position: Athletic director, Colgate University
Moore is in her third year as the AD at Colgate after rising through the ranks at Oklahoma and North Carolina. Moore was an accomplished runner at Missouri, where she was a four-time captain and two-time NCAA qualifier. If hired, she would be the first female AD in UW’s history.
Moore has her Ph.D. in counselling psychology with an emphasis in sport psychology and has put that at the forefront of her work, serving on a number of NCAA committees and launching initiatives at multiple institutions focusing on student-athletes’ mental health. At Colgate, she’s started a number of programs to develop athletes’ job prospects after graduation.
Moore was the senior woman administrator at both Oklahoma and UNC, so she has hands-on experience leading major Division I programs. A lack of experience in the Big Ten may be the only question mark on her resume.