milwaukee by stariya


									City of Milwaukee
Community: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Number of residents: 604,477

Amount of paper collected for recycling in 2009: 14,209 tons; Paper comprises more
than two-thirds of what is processed at the city’s dual-stream Materials Recovery

Grades collected: Corrugated (cardboard) Containers, Newspapers, Magazines, Mixed
Paper, Paperboard, Kraft Bags, Office Paper, Direct Mail, Paperback Books, and Phone

When and why was the recycling program established?
In 1971, the city of Milwaukee established drop-off sites for the collection of bundled
newspaper, glass, and tin cans. In the 1980s, the city began rolling out curbside
collection, and plastics and aluminum were added. In 1990, the Solid Waste Reduction,
Recovery and Recycling Law was enacted by the state of Wisconsin, providing a
graduated series of landfill bans and requiring collection programs for household
recyclables be in place by 1995. The curbside recycling program in Milwaukee grew
from servicing about 20 percent of 1-4 unit households in 1990 to 100 percent by 1995.

How is the community recycling program administered?
Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works operates the largest municipal recycling
program in the state of Wisconsin. Currently, the city’s curbside recycling program
serves approximately 190,000 single-family through four-unit households and regularly
achieves a participation rate of more than 80 percent. City crews collect recyclables and
transport them to a city-owned Materials Recovery Facility. The materials are then
processed and marketed under a contract with a private company.

The majority of collection utilizes divided carts with paper products on one side and
commingled containers on the other. Semi-automated, split-body packers empty the
large carts with single-stream efficiency while maintaining dual-stream material quality
for delivery to the city’s recycling facility.

In 2009, the Department of Public Works began planning for the implementation of city-
wide recycling collection schedule improvements. From April through November of
2010, all residents received recycling pick-ups on guaranteed dates. Most residents
received recycling pickups every third week rather than the previous once-monthly
floating schedule.

The city also operates two Self-Help Recycling and Safe Disposal Centers which
provide residents with the opportunity to drop-off extra recyclables and a variety of items
not accepted through the curbside program.

How are residents educated about the community recycling program?
In 2008, the Recycle For Good (RFG) campaign was launched to promote increased
recycling participation and raise awareness about how recycling benefits the
community. The campaign promotes paper items not commonly known to be recyclable,
such as paperboard and direct mail.

Residents are educated about the recycling program through neighborhood outreach
campaigns, the city’s recycling website (, and advertising
through TV, radio, print, and online media. provides residents
with comprehensive information about recycling, including an interactive map illustrating
where Milwaukee’s recyclables are sent and what kinds of products they are made into.
Promotional images are also featured on a dozen city recycling trucks.

In addition, each fall residents receive a newsletter that provides important information
about the city’s sanitation services and features extensive information on the recycling

What partnerships have been formed to increase paper recycling?
In 2009, two RFG neighborhood campaigns were carried out through partnerships with
community groups. The groups incorporated recycling messages into their activities and
canvassed neighborhoods to distribute recycling literature and connect with residents.
Messages included the recyclability of paperboard, direct mail, and paper egg cartons.

Milwaukee also works with the state’s recycling association, Associated Recyclers of
Wisconsin, to engage other communities, businesses, organizations, and schools in
promoting waste reduction and increased recovery.

In October 2009 the city partnered with AT&T and the University of Wisconsin-
Milwaukee to hold a one-day recycling event which resulted in the collection of 1,760
pounds of phone books. The event was used not only to highlight the recyclability of
phone books but also to stress that residents can always recycle them through
Milwaukee’s curbside program.

Additionally, the city’s partnership with Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful provides
waste reduction and recycling education to city residents and students. In 2009, 2,315
students and 346 adults toured Milwaukee’s Materials Recovery Facility.

How do you measure improvement to your program?
An increase in pounds recovered for recycling per household is the primary indicator of
the success of the city’s education and outreach efforts. The city also uses garbage
data to calculate a landfill diversion rate. During the 2009 RFG campaign year, the
percent of the total waste stream recycled within the city’s lowest participation area
increased by 9.7 percent when compared with the same time period in 2008.
Participation is another important measurement tool, and is tracked by measuring the
percentage of residents who utilize the curbside recycling program.

How is your program's cost-effectiveness tracked?
Together, avoided disposal costs and revenue from the sale of recyclable materials
generate annual income for enhancing city services to residents. In 2009, the city
avoided $712,000 in disposal costs, and earned $591,000 in revenue from the sale of
recyclable materials. Overall, the City of Milwaukee realized a net financial gain of
$347,000 in 2009 or a savings of about $15 per ton of materials recycled instead of sent
to a landfill.

Additional Resources
Milwaukee Recycles [Link:]
Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin [Link:]

Rick Meyers

To top