City of La Crosse and Onalaska see pickup in recycling

In March, city of La Crosse and Onalaska residents recycled 329 tons

It’s only been a few months since the city of La Crosse and Onalaska started using the new recycling carts, but officials say the numbers have nearly doubled.

Officials in the city of Onalaska and La Crosse are really impressed with the residents’ willingness to participate in the new single-stream recycling system. Not only are the residents able to recycle more items, but it is also saving some money for the cities.

Since the roll-out of recycling and refuse carts in the beginning of this year, officials in the city of La Crosse and Onalaska are seeing tremendous pick-up in recycling.

“What we are seeing is very encouraging. Through the first three months of the year, we’re up about 200 tons more in recyclables than we were the same time last year,” said Dale Hexom, director of public works for the city of La Crosse.

“In that time we’ve actually seen our recycling double and even last month it was close to tripling,” said Jarrod Holter, city engineer for the city of Onalaska.

Here is a closer look at the numbers: Last March, the city of La Crosse recycled about 114 tons, Onalaska recycled about 46 tons. Compared to this March, the city of La Crosse recycled about 216 tons and Onalaska recycled about 112 tons.

That’s a total of about 168 tons between the two cities in one month and it’s all thanks to single-stream recycling.

“There is no sorting. You can throw a multitude of items, including cardboard, glossy paper, all of your junk mail, all of you plastic containers, Christmas lights, cooking pans, and the list is greatly expanded,” said Holter.

The more items that residents can recycle, means less garbage going into landfill and more money being saved by the city.

“Every ton that we divert from either the energy plant or the landfill, the city saves $59, it’s easier to use $60 per ton because that is our tipping fee,” said Hexom.

With an increase in recycling, it’s been suggested to switch garbage and recycling pick-up. The city could pick up recycling every week and refuse every other week.

“In the winter time it might be OK, but in the summer time with 90 degree weather with food waste in your garbage, that may get a little problematic,” said Hexom.

“If we did that, it would be approximately about $100,000 more for the city to go to every week recycling,” said Holter.

But it’s something that will be talked about in the future as city officials continue to collect all the numbers. La Crosse officials are going to give it another three months so that they have six months of data. Then they will sit down and talk about any recommendations or changes moving forward.

Click here for more information about the recycling programs in the city of Onalaska or the city of La Crosse.

As residents continue to improve recycling operations throughout the city, officials want to remind residents to make sure everything you want to be recycled is inside the cart with the lid closed at the time of pickup.