Recycling & "Green" purchasing practices used in Eau Claire

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The latest data from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources shows the Badger State is good at recycling.

In 2012-2013, 750,000 tons of paper and food and beverage containers were recycled. In Eau Claire Co., the recycling rate went up by 15 percent to 141.2 lbs. of recyclables per recycling person. Just this month, the city of Eau Claire recycled 600 lbs. of holiday lights.

Assistant city planner Ned Noel said keeping the city "green" isn't just about recycling, but also being aware of what the city purchases.

During "Green Week" this week, the city is encouraging neighbors to make changes to be more energy efficient, sustainable and green. He said the city is doing its part too.

For instance, the next time you're at Hobbs Ice Arena's concession stand, take a closer look at the paper plates and cups.

"In the city of Eau Claire, we started to go with more sustainable products at our concession stands for parks and this stuff is actually compostable so it will break down quicker in the landfill," said Noel.

These are green products specifically picked by the city. Eau Claire reports nearly 60 percent of its office supplies are environmentally friendly.

Large blue recycling containers in each department get filled each week, said Noel. It's a single-stream recycling bin, making it easy for city workers to dump soda cans, bottles, paper and cardboard into the same bin.

Dunn and Eau Claire counties both have a recycling superhero known as "Recyclone." She knows all about what goes and doesn't go into the blue bin.

She showed us the different types of paper products, glasses and aluminum cans that can be recycled.

"Then we got the plastics which we're really excited about because now we can recycle one through number five plastic along with number seven plastic bottles and jugs," said Recyclone.

Recyclone didn't want us to reveal her identity, but Amanda Haffele who is a recycling specialist said the county collects old Christmas trees and brush and sells it to companies that recycle it.

"They create animal bedding with it, they mulch it down to make it smaller sizes and then they color it and they sell that Menards or Fleet and Farms and then we buy it and put it in our beds at home," said Haffele.

Haffele said the county will also have recycled mulch available at its brush site on Jeffers road for free, starting in March. It's on a first-come first-serve basis on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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