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UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield Hall 218
Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004
UW-Eau Claire Student Studies
Local Recycling Routes
phone (715) 836-4741
fax (715) 836-2900
web http://www.uwec.edu
e-mail newsbur@uwec.edu

MAILED: April 29, 1998

EAU CLAIRE — Current recycling routes in the City of Eau Claire are inefficient because the heavy collection trucks travel more miles on city streets than is necessary, a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire geography major's research indicates.
With five haulers collecting the city's curbside recyclables, there is five times the amount of truck traffic traveling on many of the city's residential streets, said Cathi Jones, a senior from New Richmond.
"The trucks are very heavy so five of them vs. one is a big difference," Jones said of the traffic. "That's a lot of wear and tear on the streets and we're all paying for this waste. Others see having several private haulers as a free market issue but I just don't think it's efficient in this case."
Her data indicate that in a 76-block study area within the city that includes 500 customers, the five trucks together travel 32.5 miles on the neighborhoods' streets to collect the recyclables. If the overlap in routes were eliminated, one truck would travel on those same streets for just 6.5 miles and collect the same recyclables.
In addition to the potential damage done to city streets, city residents are also exposed to increased emissions from the trucks and from the noise pollution created by five different trucks traveling the same routes, Jones said.
Jones said the goal of her research was to increase awareness of the problem in Eau Claire and hopefully to give the city's leaders something to think about as they make decisions.
Alternatives include having a city-operated recycling program, thus having just one hauler; having private haulers bid for certain districts in the city, reducing the number of trucks traveling the same routes from five to one; and having all five haulers bid to service the entire city, again reducing truck traffic while keeping the operation in private hands.
All options would be controversial, Jones said, noting that her preferred option would involve the city taking over responsibility for the recycling routes.
"That makes the most sense to me because everyone would work together," Jones said. "On the other hand, I'd hate to see the local haulers put out of business."
While she selected Eau Claire as her study site, the problems found here are similar to those found elsewhere when private companies compete for recycling business, Jones said.
"Although problems such as emissions aren't noticed here in Eau Claire, when cities all over the nation have the same procedure, those emissions add up and affect overall air quality," she said.
Jones used the geography department's recently purchased Geographic Information System to help analyze her data. Her interest in conservation efforts coupled with an interest in learning to use the GIS program led to the analysis of Eau Claire's recycling program, she said. She completed her research with the help of faculty from UW-Eau Claire's geography department and the Eau Claire county associate planner.
Jones presented her findings at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Boston in March. Some 5,000 geographers from around the world attended the meeting.

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UWEC [Administrative Offices] [News Bureau]

Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 218
(715) 836-4741
newsbur@uwec.edu

Updated: April 29, 1998