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Madison cuts composting program, hopes to restart it in future

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MADISON, Wis. - Madison's composting program is no more.

The city's street department made the decision last week after members couldn't find an affordable solution to a problem with contamination. People would throw in plastic bottles and bags, and the treatment plant did not have an efficient way to mitigate it.

“No one likes to end a program like this,” said Bryan Johnson, the recycling coordinator for the city. “We've been able to do this. It's a bummer that it needs to end. But at the same time it needs to end too. We have to do something to clean this material up.”

Johnson said he hopes by having a clean break, his team can re-evaluate its approach and come up with a better solution.

“We are going to try this again,” he said. “This isn't the end of this.”

Frequent composters hope that’s true.

“It was very important to me,” said Joanne Tooley. “That’s moving toward zero waste, and that’s what we need to do.”

Tooley owns a private composting company, but she is disappointed even though this could mean more clients for her.

“I’m very sad about it,” she said. “As someone who's lived here in Madison for the past 20 years, I would like to see Madison move forward.”

There isn’t a timeline yet for when or if the city will be able to restart the program, but Johnson said in the meantime he hopes people will find their own ways to cut back.

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