Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Press Release

DNR Celebrates America Recycles Day By Announcing Recycling Excellence Awards Honoring Wisconsin Recycling And Waste Reduction Programs


By - Nov 15th, 2021 10:35 am

MADISON, Wis. – In honor of America Recycles Day, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announces the winners of the 2021 Wisconsin Recycling Excellence Awards.

The Recycling Excellence Awards celebrate outstanding recycling efforts, innovation and performance throughout Wisconsin. The DNR provides awards to communities, businesses, organizations and local governments for their overall program, projects and initiatives, innovation or special events.

“The creativity and commitment of this year’s winners is inspiring,” said Brad Wolbert, the DNR’s Waste and Materials Management Program Director. “Their waste reduction and diversion efforts directly benefit their organizations, communities and Wisconsin as a whole.”

One of the goals identified in the DNR’s climate action plan for 2021-2025 is to reduce per-capita food waste disposed of in Wisconsin landfills by half by 2030. In recognition of this important goal, food waste recovery or diversion programs were an emphasis this year. Several winners, including the Clement J Zablocki VA Medical Center, Stockbridge Munsee Community Compost Program and Madison College Culinary Baking Program, are making significant contributions towards reducing food waste and scraps destined for the landfill.

Almost all of the winners used outreach and education to promote recycling and proper waste management. Sustain Dane, with the City of Madison, created and launched a Master Recycler Program. Almost 500 participants completed online sessions covering local recycling rules and waste reduction opportunities. To complete the program, participants conducted outreach projects of their own.

“The Master Recycler Program is the first of its kind in Wisconsin, and the popularity of the program shows there is a real interest in learning about recycling and waste diversion,” Wolbert said.

The winners’ collaborations with other organizations are also notable. The Milwaukee County Zoo worked with Trex to divert 837.5 pounds of plastic bags and film in 2020, Pepin County Recycling designed and hosted a drive-through event to collect electronics with RetroFit Companies, and Tosa Green Summit worked with local agencies and organizations to collect 92,000 pounds of materials at their event.

“By working with others, the winners were able to leverage additional resources to achieve their goals,” Wolbert said. “Each winner represents a larger group of people that worked together, and we would like to acknowledge everyone who contributed.”

The four award categories include overall program, projects and initiatives, innovation and special events. Congratulations to this year’s winners:

  • The Clement J Zablocki VA Medical Center, Milwaukee, for their work in reducing food waste.
  • Sustain Dane for their collaboration with the City of Madison to launch a Master Recycler Program.
  • The Milwaukee County Zoo for their plastic bags/film diversion, animal feed and herbivore waste composting as well as their electronics collection program.
  • The Stockbridge Munsee Community Compost Program for their food waste diversion efforts and outreach.
  • D&D Products, North Prairie, for their effort to reduce and recycle in their office and manufacturing operations.
  • Inpro, Muskego, a Green Tier participant, for implementing a robust recycling program and conducting a company-wide waste audit.
  • Outagamie County Resource Recovery Park for the design and promotion of their new recycling drop-off site.
  • Waupaca Foundry, a Green Tier participant, for their beneficial reuse of byproducts generated at the foundry.
  • Pepin County Recycling for the reinvigoration of their recycling, organics, and electronics recycling program.
  • Tosa Green Summit, Wauwatosa, a a Green Tier Legacy Community, for promoting green and sustainable practices and collecting materials for recycling or diversion.
  • Town of Excelsior, Sauk County, for partnering with local UTV/ATV clubs to hold fall clean-up days.
  • Town of Mentor, Clark County, for promoting and hosting a special clean-up day.
  • Madison College Culinary Baking Program for their food waste diversion program utilizing biodigestion.

For a full description of the winners and list of honorable mentions, visit the DNR’s Recycling Excellence Awards webpage.

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