We’re relatively new residents of Fitchburg and pleased to live in a community that identifies as “Wisconsin’s Recycling Leader.” Recently we participated in Dane County’s inaugural Master Recycler Program designed with the expectation that attendees would improve their own recycling habits and also help friends, neighbors and coworkers improve their habits, too.

A recent study found that 19% of what is put into our blue recycling bins is actually trash and contaminates the recycling stream; 13% of the material in the county’s landfill could be recycled. Clearly, there’s room for improvement.

What is recyclable depends on the local community’s process and materials recovery facility. The 2021 Fitchburg Recycling Guide is available at fitchburgwi.gov/solidwaste.

When deciding what to do with an item (the “hover moment”) consider the following questions:

1.) What’s the material? (metal, glass, paper, plastic)

2.) Is the material accepted? (Check local guidelines.)

3.) If yes, is it an acceptable size and shape? (Paper and cardboard should be flat; everything else should be 3-dimensional. Don’t crush plastic containers or metal cans.)

4.) All recyclables should be larger than a 3X3 sticky note. (Small items that are similar can be consolidated.)

5.) Is it clean? If yes, place loosely in the cart. (Make a good faith effort; recyclables do not have to be spotless.)

If you are uncertain about whether an item is recyclable, consider it trash to avoid contaminating the recycling stream. In other words, “When in doubt, throw it out.”

Here are a few tips about recycling metal items:

• To recycle metal cans it isn’t necessary to remove the labels; it is important not to crush the cans.

• To recycle aluminum foil make sure it is clean and then wad it up into a baseball size ball.

• To recycle metal lids place them in clean empty cans before crimping the cans to hold the lids in place.

• To recycle metal bottle caps, place a number of aggregated caps in a metal can before crimping the can to hold the bottle caps in place.

If you are interested in participating in the next Master Recycler cohort, information is at sustaindane.org.

We’re fortunate to live in a community that is committed to recycling. As a result of this program we will be improving our composting and recycling habits.

We encourage all residents to learn more about improving low waste living habits and become more effective recyclers.

Narra and Tom Cox


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