City workers going through Wauwatosa trash
Jesse Ritka reportsPhoto: Video by tmj4.com
WAUWATOSA - For many in Wauwatosa, the city comes to collect the trash, but some people have noticed city garbage collectors actually going through it.
"Who wants to go through garbage?" ponders Wauwatosa resident Lucas Jensen.
Garbage collectors in Wauwatosa aren't just hauling trash to the landfill, one part-time city worker is looking through residents garbage to make sure people are recycling the right way.
"It's not that we want to pick through and see what you're throwing away or what's in your waste stream, we want to make sure that the right material is getting in the right collection cycle," says City Administrator Jim Archambo.
But some residents are concerned it invades their privacy. Jensen thinks it's a weird measure, but isn't too concerned, "I don't really put anything weird in my garbage, I put diapers and trash, so I don't really have anything to hide."
But bringing trash receptacles to the curb is essentially giving the city the garbage, making it no longer private.
"For a long time (we) had the responsibility to make sure that which is supposed to be recycled is recycled, that's under state law," says Archambo.
Residents like Jensen are aware of the city's vigorous attitude, "I know that Tosa's pretty strict about recycling and yard waste and that's okay, I understand people need to keep things separate and follow the rules about the recycling."
The city gets paid to recycle, so they want to make sure residents aren't throwing potential money away.
"For every individual ton of material that goes to the landfill and not to the recycling collection, costs us $100. So extrapolate that out over say 250 tons of material that could potentially be moved from the waste stream to the recycling stream, you're talking about $25,000," Archambo explains.
The money could keep property taxes down as well as help the environment, which helps put residents like Jensen at ease about the occasional garbage checks, "When people don't put stuff in the right bins it does cost the city more money, so I appreciate that fact. Take it, I don't want it."