La Crosse and Onalaska recycle rate triples

Recyling in the area has skyrocketed

When La Crosse and Onalaska residents found out their cities were switching to an automated trash and recycling system and replacing bins with large carts. They thought the changes would just bring chaos not convenience.

However, since the system went into effect in January recycling numbers have sky rocketed, trash numbers have gone down and both cities are benefiting financially.

On days like this Matt Halverson, a recycle collector for Harter’s Quick Clean-Up is grateful Onalaska and La Crosse switched to an automated recycling system this year.

“It’s a lot nicer because before I’d always freeze and have to sit inside the truck for a little bit,” Halverson said.

Being able to stay in his truck not only keeps Halverson warm it also helps him cover more ground in a shorter time.

“I have quite a bit actually I go as far as you can go that way from the marsh all the way up to Rose street.” Halverson said.

As part of the new system both cities replaced bins with carts and allow more varieties of plastics to be recycled. The decision has caused recycling to soar.

This November Onalaska residents recycled 113 tons of garbage compared to 51tons in the previous year. In La Crosse 163 more tons of recycled materials were picked up this November than in the same month a year earlier.

Making recycling more convenient caused trash numbers to drop.

“So by not having to dispose of as many tons of garbage we aren’t having as much cost.” Jarrod Holter, the Onalaska City Engineer.

Removing trash is about $61 per ton recycling costs next to nothing.

“Now that we have been in it for a year we’ve also seen that we are going to save approximately $40,000 in the tipping costs,” Holter said.

While La Crosse officials don’t have exact dollar amounts they expect something similar.

“It’s been successful, yes, and I think we should see significant cost savings.” Brandon Shea, the assistant street superintendent of La Crosse said.