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Residents may pay more under proposed garbage and recycling changes

LA CROSSE, Wis. - Residents in La Crosse may soon have to make some big changes to their trash and recycling collection.

In just more than a week, the City Council will vote on a proposal that will work to reduce La Crosse's carbon footprint.

For now, crews with Harter's Quick Clean Up will still collect garbage and recyclables by hand.

"I'd rather be out picking it up by hand," said Clint Hoops of Harter's Quick Clean Up. "It'll be a lot cleaner doing it by hand."

If approved, pickup will move to an automated cart system next year.

The city would provide residents with the carts -- one for garbage and one for recycling free of charge.

"It's more sustainable, it's more green, it's more earth friendly," said Dale Hexom, director of La Crosse's Public Works Department.


Hexom hopes bigger recycling containers means more recycling will take place.

Currently residents can only recycle plastics number 1 and 2, glass jars and bottles as well as newsprint.

Under the proposal, residents will be able to add plastics 3-7 including Styrofoam, butter, yogurt and laundry detergent containers, newsprint and shiny inserts, cardboard, pressed paper (cereal and soda boxes, beer cartons) office and white paper and magazines.

"When you're recycling, you're really making better use of natural resources of base materials," said Hexom. "You're turning good products into reusable products."

Along with the proposal, residents would have to start paying for yard waste curbside collection and pickup of large items and appliances.

Hexom said it only makes sense.

"Why should the city take away your old unit and spread that cost amongst all the taxpayers?" Hexom asked. "If you bought a new entertainment center and you want to get rid of the old entertainment center, shouldn't it be your responsibility?"

The proposal calls for new and bigger trucks equipped to operate the carts.

Hexom said collectors would be safer operating pickup from inside the truck, but Hoops says that might make his job harder.

"Some of the alleys are event too tight for these trucks to make it through," said Hoops. "I guess it depends. I really don't know."

Currently, a La Crosse resident recycles on average just under 11 pounds of material a year.

Cities including Janesville and Oshkosh have already implemented an automated cart system.

Hexom said residents in those cities recycle close to 40 pounds of material per person per year.

The La Crosse City Council will put the proposal to a vote next Thursday.

If approved, the changes are set to take place January 2014.

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