Recycling Updates

Recycling Updates is your source for up-to-date information on all that is new in recycling. Stay informed about recycling opportunities and resources, including grants, professional development, policy news and more. New updates and opportunities are posted as they become available. Recycling Updates is also an email subscription service, with emails sent about once per month.

Share your updates

We're always looking for interesting or timely information to share with our subscribers. Email Elisabeth Olson if you have an event, webinar or other information you'd like to share.

DNR news releases

Does your community publish a newsletter? Are you looking for free recycling outreach materials? The DNR's Waste and Materials Management Program puts out frequent news releases dealing with recycling in Wisconsin. These releases are free and available for you to use in your newsletter, flier or other materials. The most recent releases are listed below.


Recycling Excellence Awards 2015 nomination period starts in June

From June 1 to Aug. 15, the Wisconsin DNR will be accepting 2015 nominations for its annual Recycling Excellence Awards. The award program celebrates the outstanding recycling efforts of both large and small communities and organizations throughout the state. Any recycling responsible unit or organization can nominate itself or submit a nomination on another program’s behalf.

More information on the Recycling Excellence Awards can be found by searching “recycling excellence awards” on the DNR website or by contacting Angela Carey by email or at 608-266-6965.

Policy news

Newspaper recycling fee repealed

2015 Wisconsin Act 7 took effect April 10. Act 7 repeals the general requirement that newspapers contain a target amount of recycled paper (s. 287.31 Wis. Stats.) and the corresponding fee for newspaper publishers who fail to meet the target (NR 546, Wis. Adm. Code).

Recycling news

UW-Stout is top recycling campus in state

For the second year in a row, the University of Wisconsin-Stout had the highest recycling rate of any Wisconsin school participating in the national Recyclemania competition.

Sauk County raising funds for recycling pioneer memorial

Sauk County’s Milly Zantow created the system of numbered triangles now used on recyclable plastics worldwide. The Sauk County Institute of Leadership is raising funds to construct a memorial to Zantow, who died in 2014 at the age of 91.

Waupaca Foundry cuts waste, joins Green Tier program

The Waupaca Foundry is finding ways to reuse foundry byproducts and aiming to become the first iron foundry with zero landfill waste. For its work, it has been recognized by the DNR’s Green Tier program.

Fishing line recycling containers coming to Beaver Dam shorelines

A Leadership Beaver Dam project is adding fishing line collection containers to popular fishing areas in Beaver Dam, reducing litter and putting old line to new use.

Concrete and steel from I-41 project recycled

Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation is salvaging old concrete and other materials from recent work on Interstate 41 to use as fill and save taxpayers money.

World’s Largest Brat Fest adds zero waste initiative to 2015 event

Organizers of Madison’s annual Brat Fest are working with food vendors and waste haulers to increase recycling and composting at the event and to divert at least 50 percent of its trash and food waste from the landfill.

1,000 mattresses diverted from landfill and recycled in La Crosse

Since October 2014, three La Crosse recycling companies have collected 1,000 mattresses, recycling more than 90 percent of the material they contain.

Dane County newspaper focuses on waste with “Garbage Issue”

In the week before Earth Day, Dane County’s Isthmus newspaper dedicated an entire issue to waste, recycling and composting stories. The issue features articles on the end of a popular compost program, the beginning of a new county recycling center, metal scrap recycling, textile upcycling, cloth diapers and more, as well as an interview with Madison’s recycling coordinator, George Dreckmann.

City of Milwaukee, Waukesha County collaborate to open joint recycling facility

Officials in the city of Milwaukee and Waukesha County are celebrating a new joint recycling facility that will process 35 tons of recyclables per hour and will save the city and county as much as $4 million each year through the partnership.

Community spotlight

Recycling Updates Community Spotlight

The Community Spotlight recognizes innovative and exciting recycling and waste reduction efforts by local and tribal governments, businesses and other groups in Wisconsin.

Spotlight on: The MREA Energy Fair’s Resource Recovery Stations

The Energy Fair: Clean Energy & Sustainable Living

Every year, more than 15,000 visitors come to Custer, Wisconsin, to attend the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s Annual Energy Fair, a weekend dedicated to sustainable living and energy innovation. Even with so many attendees, the MREA plans ahead for event recycling and composting and the Energy Fair continues to be a low-waste event.

A volunteer stands at a Resource Recovery Station, with clearly labeled and color-coded bins for compost, recyclables and garbage
Energy Fair Resource Recovery Stations are easy to find and easy to use.

The Energy Fair’s waste reduction successes are thanks in large part to its Resource Recovery Stations, located throughout the fairgrounds. Each station includes clearly labeled and color-coded bins for compost, recyclables and garbage. Brown bins collect compost, bins with blue covers collect recyclables and bins with green covers collect garbage. The signs and color-coding make the bins easy to find and use. The stations are also marked on all fairground maps and recycling and compost opportunities are described to all fairgoers with a feature in the fair’s program.

By making the bins for compost, recyclables and garbage equally visible and equally easy to use, the MREA diverts truckloads of waste from the landfill in only a matter of days.

Event coordinator Allison Lindquist notes that the Energy Fair also works to reduce waste by collecting recyclable cardboard from exhibitors and vendors, requiring food vendors to use biodegradable plates and cups and providing water stations throughout the fairgrounds where fairgoers can fill reusable water bottles.

Organizers are looking forward to continuing these efforts and diverting tons of waste again at this year’s Energy Fair, which will be held in Custer from June 19 to June 21.

Events like the Energy Fair or other city or county festivals can use DNR resources, like the event recycling toolkit, to plan their own waste reduction efforts.

For its work, the MREA was recognized with a 2014 DNR Excellence in Wisconsin Recycling award in the Special Events category.


Carton recycling fliers can be shared by hand or social media

The Carton Council of North American has developed free outreach materials to help spread information about carton recycling.

E-book busts recycling myths for material recovery facilities

The Recycling Partnership has collected common myths and misconceptions about recycling from a series of expert webinars. Those myths are “busted” with a new e-book, filled with downloadable digital cards to share with the community.

Curbside collection fact sheet now online

The UW-Extension Solid & Hazardous Waste Education Center has produced a fact sheet resource on the various available options for curbside collection of recyclable materials.

Brush collection service provider directory updated

In time for spring yard projects and storm cleanup, the UW-Extension Solid & Hazardous Waste Education Center has updated its list of contractors who provide mobile grinding, screening and crushing services in Wisconsin.

Report details changing aspects of curbside recycling

The American Chemistry Council has compiled a report on recent changes to the mix of materials commonly collected in curbside recycling carts. The report analyzes how those changes have affected recycling infrastructure and how recycling industry is adapting.

U.S. EPA helps classrooms and community groups reduce, reuse and recycle

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides many online links, activities and resources for teaching about reduction, reuse and recycling.

Home and garden waste reduction tips from U.S. EPA online

As the spring cleaning and gardening season approaches, families around Wisconsin can use waste reduction tips from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Solid & Hazardous Waste Education Center provides overview for stakeholders

The UW-Extension’s Solid & Hazardous Waste Education Center overview, compiled in 2014, explains the many services SHWEC provides to serve Wisconsin stakeholders and meet stakeholder needs.


Upcoming recycling webinars, workshops and conferences

Event: Clean Water, Healthy Lawn Workshop
Date & time: May 13, 4 p.m.
Location: Delafield Public Library
Sponsors: Waukesha County Department of Parks and Land Use
Registration: No registration needed

Event: The Costs of Recycling
Date & time: May 14, 1 p.m.
Location: Online
Sponsors: Waste 360
Registration: Register online [exit DNR]

Event: Clean Water, Healthy Lawn Workshop
Date & time: May 14, 6:30 p.m.
Location: Poplar Creek Gardens in New Berlin
Sponsors: Waukesha County Department of Parks and Land Use
Registration: No registration needed

Event: Webinar: Carpet Recycling
Date & time: May 19, 12 to 1:45 p.m.
Location: Online
Sponsors: National Recycling Coalition
Registration: Register online [exit DNR]

Event: 2015 Midwest Extension Compost School
Date & time: June 2-4
Location: Lake County, IL
Sponsors: University of Illinois Extension
Registration: Register online [exit DNR]

Event: Foam Recycling: Facts, Figures, and Market Potential
Date & time: June 23, 12 to 1 p.m.
Location: Online
Sponsors: The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers
Registration: Register online [exit DNR]

Event: What Really Goes in that Bale? An Overview of the 2015 National Mixed Rigid Bale Composition Study
Date & time: August 11, 12 to 1 p.m.
Location: Online
Sponsors: The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers
Registration: Register online [exit DNR]

Event: APR Resources to Support Domestic Plastic Recycling Markets
Date & time: Sept. 15, 12 to 1 p.m.
Location: Online
Sponsors: The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers
Registration: Register online [exit DNR]

Event: Keep Your Caps On! A 2015 Update
Date & time: Oct. 27, 12 to 1 p.m.
Location: Online
Sponsors: The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers
Registration: Register online [exit DNR]

Last revised: Friday May 08 2015