GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – November 15th has been recognized as ‘America Recycles Day,’ which serves to highlight the importance and impact recycling has on our environment.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, America Recycles Day was founded in 1994, originally under the name ‘Texas Recycles Day’ but eventually became national in 1997.

On this year’s recycling day, I caught up with Mark Walter, a Business Development Manager at the Brown County Port and Resource Recovery Department, to find out what we can do right here in Northeast Wisconsin.

Number one, always again plastic bags, put all your materials loose into your recycling bin as much as possible. It doesn’t have to be any kind of bag at all, but if you put a plastic bag in your recycling bin, it’s going to end up in garbage, plain and simple. Number two, again would be twanglers, so things that twangle around machinery, stuff that’s not going to be recycled no matter what and it’s going to cause problems. Number three is the big bulky things. We see furniture coming through, we see clothing through here, tires, none of that should be put in your recycling bin at all.

Mark Walter

Recycling has changed as technology evolves, and there have been some changes right here in our community. The Brown County Resource Recovery Department recently changed some of its policies, including not accepting shredded paper of any type and but will accept pizza boxes.

The biggest problem is plastics, as there are over 1000 types of plastics. Walter says his department can only accept a few of them.

To keep up with these changes, Walter offers up ways on your mobile devices or laptops that you can use to figure out where each item should be taken.

“The Waste Wizard, which is on our Tri-County Recycling website, is a search engine. It pretty much lets you type in anything, and it will tell you what to do with that material. Anywhere in Brown, Winnebago, or our Outagamie counties, it will tell you where to take it and what to do with it. The other one that’s got a lot of attention now on the recycling side is an app developed here in Wisconsin that allows you to scan the barcode of any product, and it will tell you whether it’s recyclable in our area. It’s a free download through the Apple or Android store and is called ‘Betterbin.'”

Mark Walter

‘Betterbin’ allows users to earn points by scanning the barcode, and eventually, a user could earn enough points to turn into a gift card.

The goal here is to incentivize residents to recycle appropriately and understand what they are looking at on both applications.