Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Report: Madison getting better at recycling, but room for improvement

Report: Madison getting better at recycling, but room for improvement

  • 0

Madison residents have gotten better at recycling, but they're still putting tons of trash in the green bins.

That's according to an April audit conducted by Pellitteri Waste Systems, the contractor in charge of sorting the city’s recycling materials, that found nearly 13% of what was collected was not actually recyclable.

On the flip side, about 13% of what ends up in the Dane County landfill could have been recycled, according to a recent study.

While a significant improvement over the 19% trash content found in 2019 and better than the national average of 17%, the number leaves room for improvement, said Madison recycling coordinator Bryan Johnson.

“We are one of the oldest  if not the oldest  recycling programs in the United States,” Johnson said. “We can be a leader on this.”

And there’s a financial incentive: Under the new contract, the city will pay Pellitteri an extra $1 per ton next year for every percentage point of non-recyclables found in the annual audit.

Based on last year's volumes, that would add up to about $240,000.

“We can’t really control the market rate stuff,” Johnson said. “But we can control trash.”

State Journal beat reporters Colten Bartholomew, Todd Milewski and Jim Polzin get together over Zoom to discuss the state of Wisconsin men’s basketball after audio from a meeting between players and coach Greg Gard was released. The guys discuss their biggest takeaways from the audio and Jim’s reporting; the idea of a generation gap between coaches and players, and even between players from five years ago and today’s players; Gard’s future and what he has to do in the wake of this story; and more.  

Johnson said the city could reduce the amount of trash in recycling to 10% if more people followed the guidelines listed on the city’s website and on top of most recycling carts.

That involves some simple rules  like don’t put old pants or rubber hoses in the bin  but consumers also face increasingly confusing messages on items made from recycled materials.

“Some of the labeling isn’t always clear,” Johnson said. “You can’t just whip it in the cart.”

To help with that, the city and Sustain Dane have partnered to offer “master recycler” courses to teach interested residents how they can do a better job of sorting and pass that knowledge on.

About 250 people went through the first course in April, and about 230 are registered for the second cohort in July, said Claire Oleksiak, executive director of Sustain Dane, adding that space is still available.

“I can’t be everywhere,” Johnson said. “But if I get enough experts out there ... they can be the voice of authority.”


Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Badger Sports

Breaking News