Support for Recycling Solid in Wisconsin

Many items in Governor Walker’s Budget Repair Bill are controversial, among them the elimination of funding for Wisconsin’s popular recycling program.

Since the late 1990’s recycling has become standard behavior for folks in the Dairy State.  According to state records, 34% of all waste is recycled, resulting in less waste in landfills, the extended lifespan of landfills and a healthy resource for manufacturers using recycled goods in their products.

Since the proposal to eliminate funding without any change to the laws regulating what can be disposed of in landfills, over 150 cities, counties and businesses have banded together to cry “Foul!” Even GOP Senators have publicly opposed this portion of the Budget Repair Bill, eloquently explaining why the proposal is bad for the environment, the state AND business.

Enviro Girl applauds the way people are rallying to save recycling.  It takes the edge off the great sadness she’s feeling about the current proposals on the table to reduce years of gains for the environment (including repealing a recent phosphorus ban to help clean up lakes and streams and eliminating funding for public transportation).  In reading the argument for removing funding for recycling, Enviro Girl is NOT persuaded that private enterprise is the answer to the state’s costs associated with waste management.  Currently taxpayers cover 100% of our waste management expenses, whether we send our garbage to a landfill or to a recycling center.  In light of that, it strikes Enviro Girl as disingenuous to eliminate recycling 34% of the taxpayers’ garbage load.  IF funding for recycling is eliminated, many counties and municipalities are committed to continuing the programs because they are popular and do ultimately save money.  Those counties and municipalities will raise their taxes to make up the difference, because the laws about what can be put in a landfill won’t change–essentially making Governor Walker’s Budget Repair Bill an unfunded mandate:  recycle, but at your own expense. Poorer areas of the state will probably scrap their programs due to cost constraints, a decision which will inevitably lead to requiring more landfill space–an expensive proposal both to locate and to build.

Recycling makes sense.  It saves money (read Missouri’s excellent DNR site breaking down the costs of landfills vs. recycling) and benefits the environment.

Enviro Girl suggests increasing landfill tipping fees or decreasing the frequency or volume of current garbage collection–those would be more effective ways to raise or save money associated with taxpayer-funded waste management.  Creating incentives for people to reduce their waste makes more environmental and fiscal sense than removing incentives for people to recycle their waste.

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4 thoughts on “Support for Recycling Solid in Wisconsin

  1. decreasing the frequency or volume of current garbage collection

    Yes, this is a good idea. We put our trash out maybe once a month – recycling maybe every six weeks. We just don’t have that much waste. We buy very few processed foods, so don’t have that packaging. We compost. I take my old magazines to the gym and leave them there.

    But we have neighbors who put their trash and recycling out every week. We are paying for that. Why should I pay higher garbage fees to support someone else’s consumption? I wish my town charged by volume and not a flat rate.

  2. My Fair City offered citizens a smaller garbage container in exchange for a reduced fee. OF COURSE we jumped at the chance to change. We still rarely fill the bin. I was most proud when we noticed that almost the entire neighborhood made the same change. Cutting down our waste really matters.

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