Published On: Sat, Jul 11th, 2009

Single-stream recycling making conservation efficient

A new $9.9 million recycling facility in Outagamie County that separates the recyclable materials residents throw away in one bin may offer a convenience that prompts more people to take up the practice.


Ashwaubenon began offering the service, called single-stream recycling, to its residents in 2007, the first community to do so in the area. Since then, collections have increased 25 percent, said village street director Keith Watermolen.

With the new facility handling recyclables for Outagamie, Brown and Winnebago counties, families such as the Jansens of Little Chute can stop separating their paper and cardboard from the plastic and tin.

“Recycling conserves not just raw materials, but the energy it takes to process them,” said Jason Jansen, who has a master’s degree in environmental science.

Other communities in Northeastern Wisconsin have started offering single-stream recycling, including De Pere in June 2008 and Bellevue and Ledgeview, which are scheduled to start this summer. Allouez separates its paper from recycling — plastics, glass and cans — and uses an automated system for collection.

Howard will begin automated single-stream recycling in August, when new recycling bins will be delivered to residents. Suamico is also transitioning to single-stream recycling.

Green Bay began offering the single-stream recycling June 29.

City officials let people know that even wet paper can be recycled but are asking residents to rinse and empty all containers to keep food contamination out of bins. Part of the recycling process for remanufacturing paper includes water, so it is not a contaminant.

The new sorting plant at 1419 Holland Road, Little Chute, was built in response to De Pere and Ashwaubenon’s secession from Brown County’s recycling program when they began offering the single-stream option.

Brown County has shut down its processing facility that previously separated containers from paper. It now loads all recyclables to the new facility. The contracted labor that used to separate containers from paper has been laid off, and the machinery is being salvaged.