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Idea for regional recycling center re-emerges

April 26, 2010

Wauwatosa - Talk of creating a recycling facility to serve Wauwatosa, Milwaukee and Waukesha County is resurfacing.

The hope is that a regional facility could be more cost-effective for the municipalities. Three years ago, a consultant hired by Waukesha County suggested building a regional facility. The consultant's report proposed various options.

At the time, the county was deciding whether to replace its facility; Milwaukee wanted to relocate its facility in the Menomonee Valley to open that site to development; and Wauwatosa was pondering what to do with its facility, which had been heavily damaged by fire.

Initially, building a facility in Wauwatosa was considered.

Now, officials think that retrofitting Milwaukee's sorting facility at 1311 W. Mount Vernon Ave. would be more cost-effective, Wauwatosa Director of Public Works Bill Kappel said Monday.

For Wauwatosa, a key issue is whether the cost of using a regional facility would be less than what the city pays private businesses for hauling.

"Can we actually beat the private sector at its own game? That's the question that remains to be answered," Kappel said.

On Tuesday, the Wauwatosa Common Council's Budget and Finance Committee will decide whether to recommend that the council approve a study to gauge Wauwatosa's transportation costs for using a regional facility.

A consultant would be paid up to $10,900 for the study, according to a city memo. Beyond transportation costs, a major question on whether a regional facility is created is whether Milwaukee wants to invest in retrofitting its facility, Kappel said.

In Waukesha County, 25 communities haul their recyclables to a county-owned recycling facility that is operated by a private contractor, said Karen Fiedler, the county's solid waste supervisor.

Each year, the county sends rebates to each community based on the community's tonnage and costs, Fiedler said. The rebates defray each community's cost for hauling the recyclables. In 2009, the 25 communities shared a rebate of $910,500, she said.

***

What's next

The Wauwatosa Common Council's Budget and Finance Committee will decide whether to recommend that the council pay a consultant up to $10,900 to study Wauwatosa's transportation costs of using a regional recycling facility. The committee meets at 8 p.m. Tuesday 7 in Committee Room 2 at City Hall.

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