Waunakee Tribune – Jan. 12, 2023, by Neal Patten

As the clutter of excess garbage and recycling bins lining the curbs of Windsor and Vienna finally clears, residents should begin to notice more than just the color change of the receptacles—but also see a difference in how their curbside refuse and recycling collection is managed.

Last week, the Village of Windsor and Town of Vienna transitioned from the Houston, TX-headquartered company Waste Management to the Madison-based Pellitteri Waste Systems.

Founded in 1939, Pellitteri Waste Systems provides commercial and residential recycling services to the greater Madison area and throughout Dane County.

At times, the national Waste Management company struggled to keep up with the services in those communities and would miss collection days. So how will a smaller, local business make sure not to fall behind or miss collections?

“We are excited to start servicing Windsor and Vienna in the new year and have been hard at work delivering thousands of new carts throughout both communities,” Vice President Danielle Pellitteri said.

Pellitteri said she and her family, who own and operate the company, pride themselves on customer service.

"We compete with large investment-owned and shareholder-owned companies and have been successful by providing a superior level of service," she said. "We don’t answer to investors or shareholders so we are able to invest in our employees and employ additional people to ensure we have backups in place.”

In both communities, Pellitteri has just begun a five-year contract to provide weekly trash and recycling collection.

How does Pellitteri take over services in area communities? Most communities use a request for proposal (RFP) process when seeking new providers. Pellitteri actively communicates with municipalities in its service area, Danielle said.

“We like to partner with communities that value reliability of service, expanded recycling, and robust back-office customer service and communications,” she said.

The company does not infringe upon its competitors’ contracts and Pellitteri said if a community chooses to pursue canceling a competitors’ contract early, that would be between the community and their contracted provider.

Each community Pellitteri serves has standard services such as automated cart collection for waste and recycling, but there are different levels of service needs and additional services offered depending on the community.

“Some of our communities contract with us for brush and leaf collection and Christmas tree pickup for example,” Pellitteri said. “In regard to the materials we collect, all of the communities we service have our expanded recycling collection so residents can commingle and recycle more materials than what is required by State law.”

There are a variety of items that Pellitteri accepts to recycle which are beyond the scope of Wisconsin state law. Those include cartons, metal pots and pans, shredded paper in clear plastic bags, small metal appliances like toasters and blenders, empty aerosol cans, aluminum foils, paper cups, and small metal plumbing fixtures such as faucets, valves, and short pipes.

The Town of Vienna and Village of Windsor are not the only new communities Pellitteri has added to its service area in 2023, the Village of Black Earth has also come aboard, bringing the total number of new homes Pellitteri is adding this year for curbside waste and recycling removal to 4,160 new homes.

In 2022, Pellitteri added 10,000 new homes for curbside waste and recycling removal across six communities, with new contracts to serve the City of Verona, Townships of Burke, Middleton and Springfield, along with the Villages of Maple Bluff and Fall River. 

Waunakee is among the 38 local communities served by Pellitteri, with over 65,000 homes serviced weekly.

Before taking on a new community, the company has to take into consideration its staffing, and hire and train drivers for the new routes, as well as bring on new customer service and support staff as needed.

All 38 communities’ recycling is transported to the same materials recovery facility (MRF) in Madison, called Kipp Street Station, which specifically specializes in the curbside recycling materials. The fully-automated MRF sorts recyclables, which are then baled and shipped to manufacturers to be made into new products.

Plastic water bottles are converted into carpeting, laundry detergent bottles  into landscape edging and drainage tile, glass for new glass bottles, cardboard for make new cardboard boxes, mixed paper to hand towels that you would find at a public event facility, and aluminum cans back into aluminum cans.

Over time, the list of recyclable materials grows, such as in 2022 hot and cold paper cups were added.

It is important to keep contaminants out of the recycling stream, Pellitteri said.

“When non-recyclable items such as clothes, yard waste and Styrofoam are placed in the recycling cart, the MRF's contamination rate increases and the MRF's ability to recycle correct items decreases,” she said. “Keeping the recycling clean allows for the maximum amount of recycled material to be recovered.”

Printable recycling lists and a list of common contaminants are available on Pellitteri's website.

As Pellitteri’s service area grows, the MRF has the ability to expand to handle all of the recycling for Dane County and all surrounding counties, Danielle said.

“In 2023, we look forward to continuing to provide excellent service to all our customers,” she said. “We are also excited to provide more recycling options with our new facility located outside of Watertown which has expanded the scope of materials that can be recycled for our industrial and commercial customers and will further reduce items from being landfilled.”