The Wisconsin DNR is giving an award to the Forest County Potawatomi Community for having one of the three highest rates of recycling in the state in 2013. The tribe recycles more than 500 pounds of material per person per year.
The Forest County Potawatomi’s per capita rate of recycling is more than twice the state average of about 240 pounds.
The tribe’s Waste Management Specialist Jeff Marshall credits the high tonnage to high levels of outreach. With just 210 households on the reservation, he says the department is able to get the word out through ads and articles in the local newspaper.
“We have that advantage, we have a very small target audience with publication of the Traveling Times. And I think that’s how it really assists us in getting the word out.”
Households on the reservation also have the advantage of twice weekly pickup and single-stream recycling. The tribe also pays for the service.
But Marshall says in addition to making recycling easy and accessible to everyone, the program’s success relies on education.
“What it comes down to is participation from the community. Without the community, there’d be no recycling basically. And we have to get whole-hearted cooperation from them, and we’ve pretty much achieved that.”
Even though it’s been recognized for its achievements, the tribe won’t be easing up on its waste management initiatives. Marshall says the next target is composting.