EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) - A new study said up to $64 million worth of plastic is thrown away in the state every year.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources found that 19,000 tons of beverage bottles are thrown in the trash and end up in landfills annually.
"We can create jobs based on simply putting a 20 oz. plastic bottle into the recycling bin rather than the garbage," Josh Boxx, owner of Boxx Sanitation in Eau Claire said.
The company gets 18 tons of trash every day, but much of that could be recycled to create jobs and products in the community, he said.
"If we could get from 30 percent to 100 percent participation, we're gonna create jobs, in all the fields."
With thousands of jobs in the plastic industry at stake, the DNR and sanitation companies said simple changes and knowing what to recycle can have big impacts.
"Even when you're away from home, it's really important if you have a water or Gatorade bottle at a sporting event, to look for recycling bins and we're really trying to make sure there are recycling bins available in public spaces," Anna McCabe, DNR Waste and Materials Management Specialist, said.
"Folks are saying, well it's only my milk jugs, coke bottles and my tide jug. Everything else is garbage, and that's not the case," Boxx said. "We can take those plastics and we can turn them into usable products."
"We really do believe that if recycling bins are available for people, they will make that choice. People in Eau Claire are doing a great job, we're just trying to help make it better," McCabe said.
Boxx said he gives this list of items that can and can't be recycled:
Items that can be recycled include plastics (number one through seven), paper milk cartons, plastic bags, newspapers, magazines, junk mail and envelopes, cardboard, office and school paper, phone books, cereal and cracker boxes, paper bags, aluminum, steel and tin cans, glass bottles and jars, juice boxes and paper cartons.
Items that cannot be recycled include garbage, food waste, food-tainted items, paper towels, pizza boxes, egg cartons, ice cream cartons, aluminum foil, Styrofoam cups or plates, aerosol cans, batteries, light bulbs, pie tins, motor oil, paint cans and shredded paper.