Milwaukee rolls out pilot organics collection program

Dive Brief:

  • Milwaukee has become the latest city to explore curbside organic waste collection with a pilot program for about 500 households, as reported by FOX6 News.
  • The city's Department of Public Works funded the carts for $22,000 and participating residents pay $12.75 per month for collection and processing. Pick-up occurs biweekly during the winter and once per week during warmer months. Participation in the pilot was only available for buildings with up to four units.
  • Material is being taken to nearby Blue Ribbon Organics where it is processed in a windrow system. The city will decide whether to continue or expand the program once the pilot phase is complete in November.

Dive Insight:

Milwaukee has set a goal of 40% diversion by 2020 and sees this program as a key part of reaching that target. The city has shifted to single-stream recycling and offered drop-off services for plastic bags and film in recent years. Residents have also had access to backyard composting bins for a reduced price though that option isn't desirable or feasible for everyone.

The city has been following Portland, OR's model and using some of their educational videos to guide residents. Unlike Portland, Milwaukee does not accept raw meat and requires all material to be in paper or compostable bags within the carts. Since it was started years ago Portland's program has now expanded to the point that the regional government will be considering a commercial organics diversion mandate this year.

The organics market in Wisconsin's largest city has already proven fruitful enough for at least one young entrepreneur to start a collection business and more can be expected as the local infrastructure grows. If the city does decide to pursue a program past the pilot it will join many others — from small municipalities in Maine to the five boroughs of New York — which have already taken steps toward managing their own organic waste.

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Filed Under: Recycling Waste Diversion
Top image credit: Pat Doyle