Wisconsin C-stores Boost Recycling Efforts

C-stores in six Wisconsin counties have teamed with the Department of Natural Resources to offer on-site recycling bins for plastic, glass and cans, The Leader-Telegram in Wisconsin reported.

The recycling program is specifically targeting gas stations in the six western Wisconsin counties of Eau Claire, Dunn, St. Croix, Pepin, Pierce and Polk, the newspaper reported.

"One of the bugaboos for most recycling programs has been lack of recycling at convenience stores," Jon Tulman, recycling coordinator for Eau Claire County, told the Leader-Telegram.

The prevalence of convenience stores makes the lack of recycling bins frustrating, he said. With help from a Department of Natural Resources grant, each of the counties will have a staff person checking each convenience store and asking managers to comply with the recycling laws.

This past summer, Anna McCabe began visiting stores in those counties to see what recycling they offered, and tell them what is required.

Almost all Eau Claire County stores recycle cardboard, McCabe said, but the Corner Store in the town of Washington was the only Eau Claire convenience store that had receptacles available for aluminum and plastic.

About two years ago, Corner Store Manager John Spare bought a couple of containers from Menards and affixed recycling stickers on them for glass and plastic.

"It was my own peace of mind," he said. "I just hate to see that all going to landfills." Spare estimates that bottle and can recycling cuts his garbage volume by about 15%.

Recycling at the Corner Store does cost the business some time and money, Spare said, adding, "It’s not free by any means.”

McCabe acknowledged that businesses were concerned with upfront expenses of buying a bin and the way they handle garbage. "A lot of it is a cost concern," she said.

From working directly with store owners, McCabe has learned that chains with a corporate ownership take longer to convince than those owned by locals. "If it’s independently owned it’s a lot easier," she said.

In less than a month, McCabe said she’ll be following up with Eau Claire stores to see if bins are in place. She hopes to have the convenience store effort wrapped up by Nov. 15.

The county could impose fines on stores that do not comply with recycling laws. A ticket – including court costs – would cost a business $370, which could be charged every day.

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