State unlawfully raided millions from recycling program

MADISON — The state’s largest environmental advocacy organization, Clean Wisconsin, joined the cities of Madison and Milwaukee in a lawsuit yesterday seeking to fully restore funding to Wisconsin’s recycling program.

“Recycling is an incredibly popular program, supported by nine out of 10 Wisconsin residents,” said Katie Nekola, attorney at Clean Wisconsin. “When the state raided funding from the recycling program last year, it was not only unpopular, it was illegal. Clean Wisconsin is joining this lawsuit on behalf of the millions of Wisconsin residents who support recycling and want to see the fees they pay for recycling fund convenient and comprehensive programs in their communities.”

Wisconsin statute established a $7 per ton solid waste dumping fee designated by the state Legislature to fund the state’s recycling program. By cutting 40 percent of the recycling program in 2011, the state unlawfully raided funds collected specifically to support the program.

“When Wisconsin residents pay to dispose of waste in landfills, Wisconsin law requires that money goes to supporting the recycling program. To raid that money for other programs is illegal,” said Nekola. “Cities like Milwaukee and Madison were blindsided by the cuts and forced to reduce their popular recycling programs.”

To date, Wisconsin’s recycling program has kept enough waste out of landfills to fill the equivalent of five landfills. This Thursday marks the celebration of America Recycles Day, a day to promote recycling and inform residents about local recycling regulations.

“We’re celebrating America Recycles Day by working to restore full funding to Wisconsin’s recycling program,” said Nekola. “Last year the state unlawfully raided millions from this popular program, and this lawsuit seeks to make sure those funds go back where they belong.”