Recycling groups want Walker budget cuts trashed

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

A coalition of recycling and solid waste organizations want the Legislature to dump Gov. Scott Walker’s budget cuts to recycling efforts.

Four recycling groups — the Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin, Council on Recycling, Solid Waste Association of North America-Badger Chapter and Wisconsin Counties Solid Waste Management Association — in late March weighed in on the Walker budget. They urged reconsideration of proposed reductions or eliminations in funding from the Environmental Management Account.

Walker’s two-year budget plan would reduce recycling grants available to local governments by $4 million; eliminate $394,100 for UW-Extension Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center and eliminate $156,100 for UW solid waste research and experiments.

The funding doesn’t come from tax dollars but rather from the per-ton recycling and environmental fees assessed at landfills. From the nearly $13 per-ton fee, $9.64 goes to the Environmental Management Account. 

The recycling groups, in letters to Walker and members of the House and Senate, expressed special concern for the $4 million reduction in financial assistance to local governments for recycling. The cut of 22 percent would come on top of a cut of 40 percent that hit in 2011, under Walker, who also diverted money from the environmental management program for other uses.

“These cuts pose a risk to recycling programs across the state and pose a greater risk to those Wisconsin businesses that rely on recyclables as raw materials for Wisconsin,” the groups said jointly.

Environmentalists also protested the proposed cuts, arguing the administration budget threatens the state’s 20-year-old mandatory recycling campaign at a time when residential recycling is on the decline.