In many areas across the United States, recycling services have become a central part of community waste disposal, with recycle centers increasingly filling roles previously held by waste management companies. In spite of this success, however, many people say that the state of Wisconsin is moving backward: proposed budget cuts could drastically reduce funding given to local governments to support recycling. Fortunately, public backlash has been swift, and Wisconsin’s environmentally-minded communities and organizations likely won’t give up without a fight.
Currently, proposed budget cuts in Wisconsin could take away more than $4 million in state recycling programs, which is used to provide financial assistance for environmentally-responsible waste management services. Supporters of the cuts claim that local governments will be able to cover the difference, but critics aren’t so sure: several waste management companies that offer recycling services have pointed out that the cuts represent a cumulative reduction of more than 50% in just five years time, a huge and sudden change.
While this budget cut might have gone unnoticed in an area that relies on more traditional waste disposal companies, the change has been controversial in Wisconsin, where a survey from the state Department of Natural Resources showed that 85% of residents actively support recycling efforts. Moreover, many question if the cuts will really make an effective change: some waste management companies have commented that the money that supports local recycling programs comes from user fees at landfills, not tax dollars. Additionally, the change will affect recycling information programs, not just the recycling work itself. This reduces the chance that state residents will have the knowledge necessary to make environmentally-healthy decisions.
The proposed budget cuts are covered under state bills AB-21 and SB-21. Environmentalists, businesses and state agencies are encouraging concerned state residents to reach out to their state representatives to advocate against the budget cuts.