MARQUETTE - Three out of four households participate in Marquette's curbside recycling program, according to Lynn Morgan, spokeswoman for Waste Management in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula. But where do all those glass bottles, papers and aluminum cans put out in the green WM bins end up? According to Morgan, they may reappear as carpet backing or filling in a parka. But first they are collected in WM's "one-pass truck." "That is a truck that has multiple compartments," Morgan said. "In one compartment we have cardboard and in the other (glass and aluminum). We take all of these items to a transfer station and these items are sent to the appropriate destinations." Rumors of WM dumping the recyclables into the same compartment as regular trash are untrue, Morgan added. "What you see from your window, it may not be obvious that it is divided into the compartments," she said. "The vehicle is designed to only come down the street once." Buckets at the front of the truck keep the recyclables and regular trash separate, said WM's Bruce Martin, the company's district operations manager in Marquette. The buckets are then dumped into different compartments in the truck. At the transfer station on Baraga Street, the separation of trash is continued, Martin said. From the transfer station, the recyclables are shipped to different destinations, one of them is One Source Recycling in Green Bay, Wis. "We sort everything out and ship it to the end users," said Nelson Dosreis, general manager of One Source Recycling. The "end users," he added, are companies that make injection moldings from the recycled plastics or use recycled glass to make fiberglass or sandblasting compounds. Paper goes to paper mills, he added. In 2007, Marquette recycled 617.46 tons from city households, Morgan said. The program was adopted by the city in 2000 and Morgan said Marquette showed a lot of foresight in doing so. "Three out of four households are using the program ... that shows you that the program is very popular with the residents," she said. "It's something that has really taken off. We're seeing more interest about recycling, and it can actually reduce global warming." Morgan explained that it takes great energy to harvest the resources needed to make plastics, glass and paper. "By taking our discards and recyclables, we're reducing the amount of energy to produce new items," she said. Morgan said that WM, with its subsidiary Recycle America, is North America's largest recycler and managed about 8 million tons of recyclables last year. By 2020, the company plans to triple that. In addition, Waste Management is working with companies that burn waste gasses from landfills to generate electricity. "Landfill is providing more energy than solar in this country," Morgan said. "We also see electronics recycling is going to be more important." WM and electronics giant Sony have formed a partnership to recycle electronic waste. Morgan said consumers can mail Sony-brand devices to WM to be recycled free of charge. Products can be sent to: Waste Management Recycle America, 1800 Broadway NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413. "We do recycle everything we can," Morgan said.
Rick Peterson, residential driver for Waste Management, dumps recyclables into separate compartments of the WM’s “one-pass truck.” (Journal photo by Miriam Moeller)