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Planning/Zoning/Solid Waste » Solid Waste/Recycling

County Single Stream Recycling
1. I live in an apartment complex/multi-family unit facility. Who is responsible to provide recycling information?

The owner of your facility or complex is required to provide for information on proper recycling and solid waste disposal. See attached documents for further information.




Check it out here: You Tube video

3. Can plastic grocery bags be recycled with the single stream recyclables?

Plastic bags should not be tossed in with the single stream recyclables. Plastic bags comingled with other recyclables are problematic to the separation process of single stream recycling. They can get easily wrapped in the processing equipment causing damage and downtime to remove the plastic film. Plastic bags can be recycled at most grocery or department stores. Please keep plastic bags out of the single stream recyclables.

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) News Hour has produced a brief, 2.5 minute video on not placing plastic bags in your recycling cart. It explains why this can be a big problem for recycling facilities and why plastic bags should be recycled at drop-off locations only. Check it out!! -

4. Do caps and lids need to be removed on plastic bottles and containers before recycling?

No. Caps and lids on plastic bottles and containers are now recommended to be placed back on the item after emptied and rinsed. In the past, caps and lids were not easily recyclable as they are made of different plastic materials than the containers. Recycling processors can readily separate the plastic caps and lids from the containers when run through the chipping and shredding process. So it is now suggested to empty, rinse and replace caps and lids on all plastics destined for recycling.

5. Can I place all of my recyclables into one container at my municipal drop off center?

Yes. All paper, cardboard, plastic & glass containers, bi-metal cans can be tossed into one recycling dumpster at your municipal drop off center. Some acceptions apply. Please review the Services tab or the Recycling Guide found in the Forms & Document tab for information on proper recycling of these items.

6. Do all municipalities provide for Single Stream recycling at their drop off centers?

The following municipalities are under the County Recycling Program: Abrams, Bagley, Doty, Village & Town of Lena, Little Suamico, Maple Valley, Morgan, Town of Oconto, Riverview, Stiles, City & Town of Oconto Falls, Village of Suring and Town of How. These municipalities recycling services are managed by the county to reduce administrative and recycling costs. Municipalities not listed above are under their own municipal recycling program. Citizens in the following municipalities should contact their municipal clerks for information on the proper recycling of items: Brazaeu, Breed, Chase, Gillett, Lakewood, Little River, Mountain, Pensaukee, Spruce, Townsend, Underhill, Cities of Oconto & Gillett .

7. Can I bring my recyclables to a different municipal drop off center than where I reside?

Each municipality now must cover the expense to have single stream recycling materials picked up and transported to a recycling facility. Most municipalities do not charge their citizens for recycling single stream items (paper, cardboard, plastic, glass & metal containers) but may charge "out of town" citizens to cover any additional unanticipated costs associated with these recyclables. In order to save on the recycling costs to your municipality, your recyclables should be taken to the municipal drop off center in which you reside.

8. Where and how can I recycle by milk and soup carton containers?

Cartons can be recycled with the single stream recycling wastestream of paper, cardboard, plastics, bi-metal containers and glass. Rinse containers and flatten to preserve space. For additional information on carton containers please visit the Carton Council website . -

9. As a business owner, where do I find information on how to recycle properly?

The links below provide information on recycling and waste reduction for businesses. Click on each for further information.

Business Type:

Gas Station/Convenience Store
Lodging Facility

10. Have plans to move anytime soon?

You can Green Up your move with these recycling tips. Visit WIDNR website Reduce Waste and Save Money During Your Move -

11. Where can I find information on recycling tips during the winter holidays?

Giving and sharing during the holiday season can add up to additional waste with extra gift wrap, extra packaging, disposable dishes, leftover food and more. But we can make small changes in some of our holiday habits to reduce additional waste and save money. Visit WIDNR website Reduce Waste and Save Money This Holiday Season -

12. I plan to do some home remodeling, are there any recycling guidelines I should follow?

Adding a new deck? Slapping on a new coat of paint? Finally, fixing the roof? When improving your home, you can reduce, reuse and recycle, saving money and protecting the environment as well.
Visit WIDNR website Reduce Waste and Save Money During Home Remodels. -

13. Where can I find information on recycling light bulbs?

Many types of light bulbs contain metals such as mercury. Examples include:

tube- and compact-style fluorescent bulbs, including compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs);
mercury vapor bulbs – i.e., high-intensity lamps with blue-white, originally used as farmyard lights;
metal halide bulbs – i.e., newer, more efficient high-intensity lights; and
high and low-pressure sodium vapor bulbs – i.e., yellow lights used for outdoor security lighting.

Because these bulbs contain metals and toxic chemicals, they should be properly disposed of to avoid contaminating the environment or harming human health.
Visit WIDNR Recycling Light Bulbs

Open Burning

A New DNR online tool helps residents know "CAN I BURN?"

The DNR has a new, interactive online tool that provides information to Wisconsin residents and businesses about open burning.

DNR’s open burning webpages now include an interactive tool called "Can I burn?," which allows users to input information regarding their burn intent, locations and types of materials they want to burn, and then provides directions on what to do next.

The online tool is user-friendly and takes less than a minute to complete. If residents are intending to burn several different material types, they will have to complete the tool for each type to determine eligibility.

The new open burning webpages also include updates on open burning's environmental and health impacts, DNR contacts, information on alternative ways to manage materials and how to file open burning complaints.

2. What kinds of materials MAY NOT be burned by individual property owners?

The administrative rules of the Air Management and Waste Management Programs prohibit anyone from burning any of the following materials under any conditions:
  • wet, combustible rubbish, such as wet cardboard or paper
  • oily substances, such as oily or greasy rags, oil filters, etc.
  • asphalt, such as asphalt shingles or tar paper
  • plastics of any kind, including plastic bottles and plastic bags
  • rubber products, including tires and hoses
These prohibitions apply to individual property owners (or renters) as well as to business and industry.

3. What materials are individual property owners allowed to burn outdoors?

  • Where not prohibited by local ordinance, leaf burning and burning of plant clippings and brush is allowed anywhere in the state, as long as weather conditions do not pose a fire hazard. However, leaf burning is discouraged because of the air pollution it causes and because of the benefits of composting and mulching with these materials.

  • Individual homeowners may burn small quantities of dry combustible rubbish such as paper, cardboard and/or clean untreated wood. Again, local ordinance can override this allowance. This is especially true in populated areas such as southeastern Wisconsin, where most municipalities have banned or severely limited open burning. Paper and cardboard can now be recycled in all communities, and recycling is the best disposal method for these items.
In either case, be sure to contact your local fire authority before you start burning to find out if you need to obtain a burning permit.

4. What can individuals do instead of burning household and yard wastes?

Instead of burning, the DNR recommends that you:
  • Reduce usage--buy in bulk or larger quantities and demand less packaging on the products you buy.
  • Reuse items--find someone else who can use it, have a yard sale, or donate it to a resale organization.
  • Recycle newspaper, office paper, cardboard, corrugated cardboard, magazines, aluminum, metal and acceptable plastics.
  • Compost leaves and plant clippings. View WIDNR Composting in Wisconsin or consult with University of Wisconsin-Extension and your local government to find out whether local ordinances allow you to compost raw vegetables, bread, egg shells and coffee grounds.
  • Chip brush and clean wood to make mulch or decorative chips, or use it as heating fuel in wood stoves or boilers.
  • Dispose of allowable waste materials at a licensed landfill. For more information about what items may be disposed of at licensed landfills, View WIDNR Managing Waste & Materials
5. It is illegal to use burn barrels to dispose of garbage?

Garbage normally includes wet food scraps and plastic, which are not allowed to be burned. Therefore, you may burn only the materials that are allowed to be open burned--namely, leaves, plant clippings, personal papers and clean, untreated wood. Burn barrels operate at low temperatures (400-500 degrees F), resulting in incomplete combustion of the wastes being burned.

Burning prohibited materials--such as plastics, asphalt, rubber and other man-made materials--generates additional hazardous air pollutants. A 1994 study done for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed that each pound of garbage burned in a burn barrel emits twice as much furans, 20 times more dioxin and 40 times more particulates than if that same pound of garbage were burned in an incinerator with air pollution controls.

Burn barrels often emit acid vapors, carcinogenic tars, and "heavy metals" such as lead, cadmium and chromium, as well as unhealthful levels of carbon monoxide. The closer you stand to the burn barrel, the more of these harmful chemicals you inhale.

Residual ash is another result of incomplete combustion. Frequently, a significant portion of material in the barrel--especially at the bottom--is not burned up. Ash disposal outside of a sanitary landfill can cause problems sooner (for those immediately exposed) or later (for example, if water contacting the ash becomes contaminated and gets into groundwater and/or surface water).

Materials that may not be burned in a burn barrel--such as tires, plastics and rubber--also should not be burned in a furnace, wood stove or similar home heating system.

6. Why must people get burning permits or licenses?

The DNR Forestry Program, under Chapter 26, Wisconsin Statutes, and many local governments require burning permits to prevent forest fires and protect life and property. State laws administered by the Air Management Program and many local ordinances spell out the kinds of materials that may be burned and the conditions under which burning will or won't be allowed.

Local ordinances may require burning permits to minimize nuisance effects from open burning. Burning permits are also designed so that people may burn only in areas where and at times when the risk of wildfire is not high. If a burning permit or license is obtained, it does not give authority to burn materials that are illegal to burn under state or local law.

7. Can businesses, industries and municipalities open burn?

Wisconsin businesses, industry and municipalities generally will need an approved incinerator to burn waste materials and are prohibited from doing any open burning with one exception. If a business, industry or municipality wishes to burn clean wood waste or brush, it must first obtain approval and a license from the Waste Management Program to operate as a "woodburning facility", as required in section NR 502.11, Wis. Admin. Code. A wood-burning facility license may include guidance limiting the burning conditions and amounts of material that may be burned, to ensure that air quality is not adversely affected. Please contact your district Waste Management Program staff to get additional information on what is needed to get this license.

If the woodburning facility license is issued in an area that is in an intensive or extensive fire control area, the facility must also obtain a burning permit in accordance with Chapter 26 of the Wisconsin Statutes from the local representative of the Forestry program. Burning should be done only under favorable burning conditions: relative humidity not more than 65 percent, and winds of 5 to 12 mph.

Materials that MAY NOT be burned

The administrative rules of the Air Management and Waste Management Programs prohibit anyone from burning any of the following materials under any conditions:
  • wet, combustible rubbish, such as wet cardboard or paper
  • oily substances, such as oily or greasy rags, oil filters, etc.
  • asphalt, such as asphalt shingles or tar paper
  • plastics of any kind, including plastic bottles and plastic bags
  • rubber products, including tires and hoses
Small businesses, commercial enterprises, and industries may not use burn barrels or engage in other kinds of open burning and may not be granted burning permits by municipalities. However, the prohibition on burn barrels does not apply to small businesses in which the owners reside at the same location and cannot separate their business waste from their household waste.

Since January 3, 1993, Wisconsin's Recycling Law has prohibited the disposal or burning of yard waste without using energy recovery in solid waste facilities (including commercial, municipal, industrial and government landfills and wood burning facilities). Yard waste is defined as leaves, grass clippings, yard and garden debris, and brush, including clean, woody vegetative matter smaller than six inches in diameter. However, a new law effective May 1994 allows the DNR to grant wood burning facilities a conditional waiver to burn yard and garden brush.

As of January 1, 1995, the Recycling Law requires that the following items may neither be burned at commercial, industrial or municipal facilities nor sent to landfills for disposal:
  • office paper
  • glass containers
  • steel containers
  • aluminum containers
  • plastic containers made of #1 or #2 recyclable plastic
  • corrugated paper or other container board
  • newspapers or other material printed on newsprint
  • magazines or other material printed on similar paper
  • containers for carbonated or malt beverages made from a combination of steel and aluminum
  • waste tires (however, these may be incinerated with energy recovery)
  • foam polystyrene packaging (beginning January 1, 1996)
Packaging materials, such as corrugated shipping containers, roll wrapper stock or scrap wood, are classified as municipal solid waste, not as industrial process waste. Consequently, these materials may be burned only in a permitted municipal solid waste combustor licensed by the Waste Management Program.

Commercial and industrial operations also may not burn wood pallets, wood scraps, brush, or other clean wood unless they obtain a DNR license for a "wood burning facility" as defined in section NR 502.11, Wis. Admin. Code. This approval contains numerous restrictions. The business may also need to obtain a burning permit in accordance with the Forestry Program's requirements in Chapter 26 of the Wisconsin Statutes.

With these limitations, businesses are trying to find ways to generate less waste and reuse or recycle as much as possible. Businesses should dispose of non-recyclable wastes at an approved landfill. Visit WIDNR Managing Waste & Materials for further information.