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[GreenYes] Why successful in our programs?
Hi Wayne ~

I think that you have asked the $64,000 question -- what prompts people and
a community to be willing to change behavior and implement new programs?
I've come to believe that my whole job is really in this area.

I don't really know the answer, but let me offer some thoughts which may or
may not approach the reasons why.

I don't think that what we do is based on our landfill situation. We have
very adequate capacity, with low prices ranging generally from the high
teens to the high twenties per ton.

On a statewide basis, I think that part of the reason for our environmental
programs has been our heritage, a topic that a gentleman from Kansas
suggested to me this morning. Wisconsin is a state of large Germanic
descent. Growing up with German ancestry in Milwaukee (which is very German,
with several socialist mayors) and now living outside of that region, I can
see that the German attitudes in Milwaukee have had a profound impact on
people's attitudes throughout the state. There is a neatness, a taking care
of resources -- both one's own and those held in common -- that seems very
strong to me. My father's family and society in Milwaukee was involved in
environmental issues before I was born. 

Locally, I think that part of what is going on here in Dane County has to do
with the characteristics of the region. It's a college town and the state
capital, with low unemployment and both good incomes and well educated.
There seems to be a correlation of ability to pay (and the luxury of the
ability to pay) and environmental programs -- it's the whole environmental
Kuznets curve idea at work. 

Part of the success may be our history -- Madison was the first city in the
US to have curbside collection of newspapers thanks to the work of the
American Paper Institute contacting the city to set it up as a pilot. One of
the theories of the field of social marketing is to get people to start
small and slow, and then build up from there. We have had community
recycling in Madison for 34 years now, building on that initial success. Our
state has had mandatory recycling (residential, commercial, institutional
and industrial sectors) for over 12 years, based in part on what happened
earlier in this county, the home of the state legislature. Having the
garbage barge float up and down the East Coast at a time when the state
needed to close rural landfills in response to Federal rules also helped. 

Part of the success locally may also be that we have a "critical mass" of
environmental thinkers and implementers here -- city and county staff,
university solid waste programs, our state regulatory agency, university
extension recycling specialists, consultants, and others.  I think we build
on each others' ideas and energy. 

I also think that we have a community in which the news media are very
supportive. Our main urban area is about
 250,000 people and we have two daily newspapers, four commercial TV
stations and perhaps a dozen significant radio stations. We're big enough to
support all these media, but small enough that recycling folks are known on
a first name basis by the reporters. And our city of Madison recycling
coordinator is both dynamic, has produced some excellent TV, radio and print
commercials and is a good source of information and quotes for the media.

Finally, one thing that helps us may just be age and time in service. I've
been in the field for 33 years, starting in college where I taught solid
waste courses, on up through a variety of state and local jobs and with my
increasing age and time in the field, people seem more and more accepting of
what I have to offer. At the same time, I think that I have more to offer as
I've learned from others what they are doing, and from other fields as well.

The bottom line, however, is that I really don't know exactly why we have
the support that we do. One of my latest interests has been the field of
social marketing and how to more effectively produce change. Some good web
sites are and

Your question is a one that I would like to see a lot of discussion on this
list serve; I see other programs far more successful than ours and wonder
how they were able to make their accomplishments. It would a good thing for
folks to share what they think provides the ability to move forward. 


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Wayne Turner []
> Sent: Friday, May 03, 2002 2:54 PM
> To:;
> Subject: Re: [GreenYes] Mercury Take Back Ordinance Adopted
> John,
> As I read the litany of emails from you about Wisconsin's 
> environmental initiatives, I have to question the backdrop of 
> how you're so successful at gaining such widespread 
> approvals.  Can you give me some idea of what your landfill 
> disposal situation is like in Wisconsin.  Or is this driven 
> solely by your and other's abilities to convince Wisconsin 
> policy makers to make proactive, forward thinking 
> environmental decisions.  What makes the political climate in 
> Wisconsin so favorable to the many environmental initiatives 
> that you've written about?
> Thanks.
> B. Wayne Turner
> City of Winston-Salem
> Utilities Division
> phone: (336) 727 8418
> email:
> >>> "Reindl, John" <> 05/03/02 02:01PM >>>
> For your information ~
> Dane County, Wisconsin has just adopted an ordinance to require retailers
> mercury thermostats and of fluorescent lamps and bulbs to offer to take
> these products back from the public for recycling. Dane County has a
> population of 430,000 and includes the city of Madison, which is the state
> capital. 
> The ordinance, which builds upon a similar ordinance for the retailers of
> automobile batteries and tires, was supported in concept by two statewide
> associations of retailers, including the association that represents
> hardware stores.
> The ordinance also builds upon the county's ban on the acceptance of
> hazardous and toxic materials at its landfills, the recycling program of
> Thermostat Recycling Corporation and the successful retailer take back
> programs for fluorescent lamps in other communities.
> Please let me know if you have any questions that we might try to answer.
> The ordinance will soon be available on the Internet as part of the
> solid waste ordinance,
> John Reindl, Recycling Manager
> Dane County, Wisconsin 
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