By Adam Tobias
of the Daily Times staff
The city of Watertown and Y’s Way Flooring Inc. have teamed up with a recycling organization in Milwaukee to help take carpet out of the landfills.
In years past, the Watertown Street Department has collected all carpeting and related materials at the curbside, but now residents are being asked to take those items to trailers that are parked at Y’s Way Flooring on Station Street.
Employees with Carpet Landfill Elimination and Recycling (CLEAR) will then pick up the full trailers and take them back to their Milwaukee facility, where the carpeting items will be recycled into little black pellets that can be used to make picnic tables, automobile parts, parking benches and, of course, more carpet.
Watertown Street Department Superintendent Rick Schultz said he first got the idea to partner with Y’s Way and Carpet Landfill Elimination and Recycling after receiving an email from the state Department of Natural Resources in December of last year.
“This, actually, is something very new,” Schultz said. “I got an email from the DNR in the middle of December talking about this company in Milwaukee that was starting to recycle carpeting.
“We started doing some research and called CLEAR and they said they were working with Y’s Way already,” he added. “So I called (Y’s Way co-owner) Mike Yenser and he said, ‘Well, that’s interesting.’ So, we kind of started talking back and forth and took the proposal to the finance committee and common council, and they were very supportive of it.”
The Watertown Common Council in April approved a resolution authorizing the city to sign an independent contractor agreement with Y’s Way for the disposal of carpeting materials.
The city has agreed to pay Y’s Way Flooring $700 for each trailer that is filled with carpeting materials. According to Yenser, each trailer can hold 18 tons of waste. Schultz said the tipping fees at the landfills are currently at approximately $53, so each trailer-full would cost the city about $950 if it was not recycled.
Yenser said he was informed by CLEAR that Watertown is one of the first municipalities in the state to partner with a private entity for its carpet recycling program.
“There are (CLEAR) trailers out there at a variety of businesses, especially in Milwaukee and Madison, but they are for individuals or store owners,” Yenser added.
Watertown residents who would like to throw away their carpeting need to take it Y’s Way for disposal. The street department will no loner be collecting these items at the curb.
“We are not touching it at all,” Schultz said. “It all has to come to Y’s Way.”
Once citizens arrive at Y’s Way, they should stop in at the main office so employees can inform them on which trailer they should use. One trailer will be for materials that can be recycled and other will be utilized for items that cannot be recycled.
According to CLEAR, carpet made from nylon, polypropylene and olefin can be recycled, as well as foam pads and re-bond padding. All carpeting items that cannot be recycled will be collected and taken to the landfill by the city once the trailer is full.
Schultz said that under no circumstances will Y’s Way accept any carpeting that is wet.
“Everything that comes to this facility has to be dry,” Schultz said. “Even if you’ve had a flood, you are going to have to dry your carpeting. We are not making any exemptions because of flooding. It doesn’t take that long to dry.
“Anything that is wet is going to be harder to break down,” he added. “If it’s dry, it’s easier to process.”
Yenser said residents will be asked to place the carpeting in the trailers themselves after checking in at the office, but employees will help out those with physical limitations.
Carpet can be dropped off at Y’s Way Flooring, 809 Station St., on Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Whenever we are open the trailers will be open,” Yenser said.
Schultz realizes that asking residents to dispose of their carpeting at Y’s Way is a minor inconvenience, but he says that it will help out in the long run with keeping costs down and protecting the environment.
“The city has done so much now to run more efficiently and offer cost-saving programs, but citizens are now going to have to do more at home to recycle more,” Schultz said. “It’s not really that hard. It’s just going to take a little more effort. If we want to keep our costs down, people are going to have to put that little extra effort into it.”
Schultz is also in the process of putting together a program to recycle mattresses, box springs, couches and chairs.