A new grant from The Recycling Partnership will standardize Milwaukee’s recycling system, taking all households with one to four units to every-other-week recycling pickup. (Photo: Rick Wood / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
A new grant will allow all Milwaukee households with one to four units to go to every-other-week recycling pickup, standardizing the city’s system.
Whether the city will maintain a fixed pickup schedule in the winter or need some flexibility to respond to ice and snow will be worked out, Rick Meyers, sanitation services manager at the city’s Department of Public Works, told aldermen on the Public Works Committee Wednesday.
The $1.25 million grant from The Recycling Partnership comes in the form of funds, goods and services, and in-kind resources. The Recycling Partnership is a Virginia-based nonprofit that aims to increase recycling.
The goal is to implement the new system in spring 2021, Meyers said.
The grant runs from April 1, 2021, to May 31, 2022, with the goal of permanently improving the city’s recycling program.
Households that have 18-gallon recycling bins will receive new 95-gallon recycling carts.
The grant is for $649,000 in funds, most of it for purchasing recycling carts and some for education, plus $125,000 in in-kind resources and services to help the city implement the program and educate residents.
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The Recycling Partnership is also putting $479,150 toward the purchase of the carts, dropping the city’s cost to $24,758 for the 18,615 new carts.
The city doesn’t pick up recycling from buildings with more than four units, Meyers told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Right now, about 140,000 households in the city have their recycling picked up every three weeks and sometimes less during the winter, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told the Journal Sentinel.
The grant will allow those households to move to every-other-week collection, creating a standardized system for 180,000 households citywide and improving recycling in the city, he said.
“I have always been very, very proud of our recycling program, as long as I’ve been in this job,” said Barrett, who was first elected in 2004. “From the very beginning, I think that we have really been a leader in what I consider to be one of the most important parts of sustainability but perhaps one of the least sexy parts of sustainability.”
He said keeping recyclables out of the landfills is good for the environment but also the city’s pocketbook because the city has to pay to dump in the landfill.
In contrast, the Menomonee Valley recycling sorting center, which is jointly owned by the City of Milwaukee and 27 communities in Waukesha County, can generate revenue.
However, city officials did not assume the city would make money from the sale of the increased recyclables because of the current market for recyclables, Meyers said.
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