The City of Madison Streets and Recycling Department is revitalizing a food waste collection program that ended last year, thanks in part to a $39,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. Last year, the Madison Recycling Department shutdown the organics-collection program that had been running for seven years.

The new program, called the Food Scraps Collection Pilot, is centered on the goal of reducing contamination as much as possible. It seems to be doing just that. Over the first two weeks of collections with the new program, 2,160 pounds of food scraps have been collected with only one bin having to be left behind due to contamination.

Headed by Bryan Johnson, Madison recycling department director, the recycling department has reformed their strategy to focus on dealing with contamination and began their new program earlier this month. First, the usage of the term “food scraps” is quite intentional. Previous iterations of the program used “organics;” Johnson believes people misconstrued the word.

“It wasn’t concrete enough,” said Johnson, who often found strange and obscure objects in the bins. “Some of the more mistakes we had were deer heads, children’s toys, and stuff that clearly had no business being in the cart.” The department has created a guide it hopes will be more clear to participants as to what is and is not supposed to go into the bins.

Guides were created for the previous program but due to the inability to effectively communicate to those involved, it was hard to update everyone on new restrictions. The department is now focusing on single-family homes on the west side of Madison. One hundred sixty five homes out of 691 eligible single-family homes from the west side signed up to be a part of the program.

To read the full story, visit