Model City ProfileModel City Profile

Madison, Wisconsin
Population: 223,389
Bottle Bill: No
Collection Method: Municipal employees
Funding: General Funded
Households Served: 75,000
Truck Type: Fully automated, single compartment
Container Type: 95 gallon carts for recycling
Materials Processing Facility: Single stream processing
Madison, Wisconsin

Madison had the first curbside recycling program in the nation (when it began collecting newspapers in 1968), and the first climate protection plan in Wisconsin (2002). In September 2005, Madison switched from dual to single-stream curbside recycling collection using rolling carts.

Madison has a large student population with roughly 41,000 students enrolled at the University of Wisconsin. Madison also has a growing Spanish speaking population, estimated at 12% currently. Both these factors have made communications about recycling more challenging.

Madison’s Streets Division provides refuse and recycling collection service to all households in dwellings of 8 or fewer units. Large multi-unit dwellings (housing roughly 30% of the population) must contract directly for refuse and recycling services. Madison’s goal was to increase recycling as well as reduce injuries, increase efficiency, and assist the Streets Division in servicing a growing city. To achieve this, Madison automated both recycling and refuse collection services.
Both collection costs and worker injuries were reduced by the switch to automated collection.

Both refuse and recycling are now collected in large, rolling carts from the roughly 75,000 customers served, including some 500 small businesses in the City. Recycling is collected every other week and refuse is collected weekly. Switching to single stream collection and carts allowed Madison to add mixed paper to the curbside recycling program.

Immediate increases in recycling occurred with the switch to single stream, shown by the graphed data from the first few months of the program. The switch to single stream recycling collection increased quantities collected by roughly 29% by weight when comparing 2007 to 2005 tonnages. In 2007, over 21,000 tons (about 550 pounds per household served) of single stream recyclables were recycled from Madison residents. This figure does not include residue which accounted for roughly 8 percent of recyclables set out.