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County encourages students to follow recycling laws

As the school year begins, students living off campus need to know the recycling laws and what can and cannot be recycled, said Jon Tulman, associate planner for Eau Claire County’s planning and development department.

“Recycling is mandatory,” Tulman said. “It’s not an option, and we do enforce it.”

In 1990, Wisconsin passed the Solid Waste Reduction, Recovery and Recycling Law, which instituted recycling requirements.

Newspapers, magazines and catalogues; telephone books; plastic bottles labeled No. 1 or 2; glass jars and bottles; steel and tin food and beverage cans; and corrugated cardboard must be recycled, Tulman said.

Corrugated cardboard is the type of cardboard a shoe box is made of, he said. There are three layers to it: two outer walls and a curved, ribbon layer inside.

He said part of the law also requires people to remove the caps of plastic and glass bottles and rinse out any kind of container that once had a food or beverage inside. Labels don’t have to be removed, but it helps.

In some places the landlord is responsible for getting a garbage service, he said, while in others the tenant is responsible for doing so.

But regardless of who is responsible, the company chosen provides a recycling bin and collects the recyclables once a week.

Those living in the city of Eau Claire can receive curbside recycle-pickup service for $8 a year. If someone lives outside the city limits, that fee is put on his or her property tax bill.

Fines for violating the law range from $200 to $1,000, Tulman said. However, the highest fee a student can receive is $200, but with court costs, the number is closer to $400.

Junior Michelle Rugland lives off campus and said she recycles cans and bottles but isn’t aware of the law’s specifics. She said she didn’t know people can be fined for violating the recycling laws.

“I don’t really know any laws,” she said. “I just know you’re supposed to (recycle).”

But Tulman said the county doesn’t have enforcers looking for violators.

“Most often anything that winds up in enforcement is a result of a complaint,” he said. “But if I’m going through an area and I see something that’s obvious the people aren’t recycling, then I might issue a citation.”

He said the county doesn’t write many citations, but they write more than any other recycling program in the state, adding that a landlord received recently a $3,000 fine.

“It’s the law. It’s a good environmental thing to do, and it’s good for energy conservation,” Tulman said. “Making materials from a recycled product means less air pollution, less water pollution and less use of resources. It’s much more efficient.”

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