Wisconsin’s recycling ethic already keeps 2 million tons of waste from landfills and incinerators annually

MADISON — This Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, is America Recycles Day, a celebration of how much recycling benefits local communities. It’s also the perfect opportunity to learn how to make an even larger impact for the environment.

Nearly all Wisconsin households recycle, and Wisconsin has long been a recycling leader, having passed one of the first comprehensive recycling laws in 1990. Today, Wisconsin’s dedication to recycling helps to keep nearly 2 million tons of waste out of landfills and incinerators every year.

Did you know?

  • The average Wisconsin resident recycled 242 pounds of materials in 2013.
  • E-waste recycling more than doubled between 2012 and 2013, when more than 7,500 tons of items such as old VCRs and TVs were taken at Wisconsin recycling centers. To find a recycling center, visit the E-Cycle Wisconsin website at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Ecycle.
  • Nearly 54,000 tons of tires have been collected for recycling in Wisconsin over the past decade.

While the most commonly recycled items include paper, glass containers and cardboard, here are some ways to go make a larger impact:

  • Thousands of Wisconsinites still have old mercury-containing thermostats in their homes; if not disposed of properly, these types of thermostats pose a threat to our water and aquatic life. If you are renovating your home and encounter an old thermostat, check www.thermostat-recycle.org for recycling locations. Even if you don’t have an old thermostat, write your local legislator to say it’s time for a statewide policy to encourage and incentivize recycling options.
  • The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources estimates that more than 120 million medical prescriptions are sold in Wisconsin each year, and nearly one-third go unused. Not only is this a safety issue, these drugs are often flushed down the toilet or thrown in the trash, putting water, fish and wildlife at risk. Luckily, there are options for responsible disposal. Visit dnr.wi.gov/topic/HealthWaste to learn more.
  • While compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are a smart investment for the environment and your wallet, they do contain small amounts of mercury and must be properly recycled; if your local municipality doesn’t recycle CFLs, most hardware and lighting stores accept spent bulbs for recycling.