BRYAN FAUST/Herald Photo

The city's environmental accolades will now have another accomplishment added to the list: a laudable and successful recycling program.

According to Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, the city's recycling program has been very successful since its establishment late last year.

Cieslewicz announced at a press conference Monday that Madison plans to improve its recycling program by expanding curbside collection to include even more materials.

"[Recycling] is saving taxpayers money and is good for the environment because it is keeping materials out of landfills," Cieslewicz said.

Under the program, Cieslewicz remarked the amount of garbage collected has gone down about 92 tons per week, and the amount of recycled materials has gone up about 40 percent.

In addition, he said Madison has increased efficiency of recycling trucks to cover more houses in less time.

"We have a tremendously productive and positive system," Cieslewicz added. "And today, the program just gets better because new items will be eligible for recycling."

Madison recycling coordinator George Dreckmann said the items which are now recyclable will include paper milk cartons, aluminum baking pans, aluminum roasting pans and aseptic products such as juice boxes, soy milk and tofu containers.

Though aluminum foil pans are among the new items, Dreckmann noted this does not include basic aluminum foil. Aluminum foil cannot hold up to the recycling process and is generally not a product demanded in the market, he added.

However, Dreckmann also articulated the importance of carefully cleaning all containers and removing plastic caps before placing them in designated containers.

Cieslewicz said with the additional recyclable materials, the city will save more than $8,000 in fees for landfills and will create about $3,000 in new revenue.

"When you put all these items together, we think we have the potential to capture another 300 tons per year of material," Dreckmann said. "But most of that will be in paper products because paper tends to be the biggest weight items we collect."

Dreckmann also noted the city took advantage of expanded markets for the materials and thus was able to add additional recycling.

With paper fibers becoming increasingly scarce, the demand for paper cartons worldwide is growing exponentially, he added.

Overall, Cieslewicz was pleased to elaborate on the success of the program.

"I am very happy to announce this Earth Day present for Madison residents," Cieslewicz said in a release. "This is another chance for our citizens to convert more of their trash into a resource for industry.