Waupaca County is asking the state to restore $90,000 in annual funds for its recycling program.
County supervisors passed a resolution Tuesday, Oct. 28, requesting the state pay its original share of recycling costs.
In 1990, Wisconsin mandated recycling and created a Segregated Recycling Fund through a surcharge on landfill tipping fees.
The segregated fund provided a minimum of $32 million to communities statewide to establish their own recycling programs. The state shared 66 percent of the programs’ cost, with the remainder being covered by the local county or municipality.
Waupaca County operates a recycling program with 31 cities, towns and villages.
Since its inception, Waupaca County’s recycling program has diverted more than 7,250 tons of waste from landfills per year.
Community recycling programs in Wisconsin have diverted nearly 2 million tons of waste from landfills annually.
In Gov. Scott Walker’s first state budget, he included a provision that eliminated mandatory recycling and segregated funding for existing programs that had been set up in the 1990s.
Half the revenues that came from landfill tipping fees were then diverted to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, a quasi-private agency that gives loans, grants, bonds and tax credits to corporations.
For Waupaca County, this meant a drop from $251,000 in state funding in 2010 to $162,000 annually since 2011.
“With that loss, we started restructuring, cutting back on our processing costs,” according to Roger Holman, director of Waupaca County’s Solid Waste and Recycling Department.
“We no longer contract with Waupaca County Industries for employees,” Holman said, noting that the WCI program provided jobs for developmentally challenged people. “We also laid off several seasonal employees. A total of nine part-time workers lost their jobs.”
Holman said the loss of state funding has also led to the county having to cut back its services, reducing hours and requiring residents to bring their recyclables to the county’s Processing and Transfer Facility in Manawa by appointment only.
“We are now going back to the 31 participating municipalities and asking them for $2.39 per capita to make up the $90,000,” Holman said.
At the same time that state funding for the program was cut, Holman said the revenues from the sale of recycled materials has dropped.
“With the slump in commodity prices, the profits from recycling have dried up,” according to a Nov. 12, 2013 article from Forbes.
For Waupaca County, the double slam of lower commodity prices and deceased state funding has had a major impact on the recycling budget.
In 2011, the county’s Solid Waste and Recycling budget was $425,000. The county has proposed a $332,000 recycling budget for 2015.