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Waukesha's Now You Know Column

March 14, 2012

Every week, most Waukesha residents dump their recyclables into their blue bins and haul them out to the curb, assuming that from there, someone takes them somewhere to be processed into raw materials that are eventually used to make new products.

In most of Waukesha County, Veolia Environmental Services collects recyclables for residents and hauls them to the county's Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) in Waukesha. But some residents harbor suspicions that Veolia doesn't really recycle our recyclables, and instead, just dumps them in with the rest of the trash.

That's not true, says Linda Wainstock, a Waukesha County recycling specialist. The county has years of tonnage data for the recyclables brought in to the MRF, and if the numbers were off, "believe me, we would notice," Wainstock says. On several occasions when residents have called in with suspicions that the recyclables are just being dumped, the county has investigated and has not found any major problems.

It's sometimes hard to tell exactly where the haulers are putting the recyclables, but both the large compaction trucks and those little scooter trucks have at least three separate compartments, for trash, paper/cardboard and cans/bottles.

The county has a great slide show on its web site demonstrating exactly how recyclables are collected. To view the show, go to and type "how recyclables are collected" into the search field in the upper right-hand corner.

What do you want to know? E-mail your questions to

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