Every early morning, or perhaps the night before, households in cities and villages across southwest Wisconsin collect their trash and put it out on the curb.
In a bin next to the trash container, since at least 1990, has been that week’s collection of old newspapers, plastic milk or juice jugs, aluminum soda or beer cans, and glass bottles, all required to be stored separately for recycling.
Recycling is in the process of becoming more convenient for customers of Faherty Incorporated in Platteville, which provides trash removal and recycling services for Platteville, Belmont, Cuba City, Lancaster, Darlington, Fennimore, Shullsburg and other southwest Wisconsin communities.
Faherty is transitioning from collecting recycling organized by item category to being able to collect all recycling in one bin, what’s called “single-stream” recycling.
The old method of separating plastics, aluminum cans, glass and paper from trash and from each other was “labor-intensive for Faherty, and it was labor-intensive for the resident too,” said Ed Faherty. “The worst job we had before was recycling, because you were going through people’s waste with their hands.”
Now, “there’s no separation by us at the source, and there’s no separation by the resident. People can just mix everything together” in one recycling bin.
The result allows Faherty to “get more efficient in our collection,” resulting in using just half the trucks in Platteville on Mondays and Tuesdays, when residential garbage is collected — “ultimately to make us more efficient and help us control our costs, which is going to benefit our customers. We’re all about being environmentally friendly, but it has to make economic sense.”
The transition includes replacing Faherty’s current trucks with new trucks over time “instead of buying a whole new fleet of trucks,” said Faherty.
Along with the change to single-stage recycling is an expansion of the amount of recyclable items Faherty can pick up. That list now includes transparent and translucent plastic bags, scrap metal up to 10 pounds, paper milk and juice cartons, and non-foil gift wrapping paper.
“We’re hoping by making it easier for everybody we’re increasing the volume of recycling,” said Faherty, adding that adopting single-source recycling usually means a 10- to 20-percent increase in recycling volume.
“Single-stage recycling collection doesn’t mean you throw your garbage and your recycling together. Nobody does anywhere; that process doesn’t exist.”
Recycled items are transported to Pellitterri Waste Systems on the east side of Madison. The recycling facility takes in 140 tons of materials each day. Garbage is trucked to a landfill in the Quad Cities.
Faherty employs 29 people in Platteville and uses 25 vehicles to dispose of 13,000 homes’ garbage and recycling in 30 municipalities.