Serving Wisconsin's Recycling, Waste Reduction, and Sustainability Professionals

Business | Government | Non-profits | Trade Associations | Emerging Leaders 

Providing statewide proactive leadership on Waste Reduction and Recycling through Education, Advocacy, Collaboration, Programs and Services.

Congratulations 2019 AROW Award Recipients



Christy Dixon Recycler of the Year Award

Brian Jongetjes, Johns Disposal Service

Brian Jongetjes has been a leader in the waste and recycling industry for several decades, dedicating his entire career to this industry. Brian, along with his brother and business partner Ron, have advocated for single-stream recycling, and automated waste and recycling collection, since the 1990s. Brian has served our industry in a variety of capacities. In 2005 he was appointed by Governor Jim Doyle to assist in developing a strategy for managing Wisconsin’s waste materials, and to report on the generation, recovery, reuse or disposal of waste in our state as part of the Governor’s Task Force on Waste Materials Recovery and Disposal. Brian also served as co-chair of AROW’s Glass Taskforce which identified issues and possible solutions for glass recycling.

Brian has always been willing to answer questions to anyone curious about single-stream recycling, especially when the concept was new. Brian has always looked for ways to educate communities on recycling. He has consistently stressed the importance of specifically educating the municipalities in which Johns Disposal hauls waste and recycling. He has also made it a priority for all Johns roll off customers to be reminded of the state and local laws involving recycling, as an extra opportunity to share knowledge on recycling with the company’s customers.

Brian, and Johns Disposal at large, was instrumental in passing the “Slow Down To Get Around” legislation passed in 2013, protecting solid waste and recycling workers in Wisconsin. Wisconsin served as a model template and today 23 states have passed the legislation.


Outstanding Achievement in Recycling Education Award

Waukesha Parks & Land Use Planning & the City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works Partnership

In 2014 Waukesha County and the City of Milwaukee began sending materials to a joint MRF. With a clear understanding of the importance of education, the County and City embedded education funding into the operating contract which included funds for an educational space as well as ongoing funds for continued outreach. This nomination focuses on the final implementation of the physical education spaces as well as the harmonization of recycling information for 28 municipalities.

The first stage of the project was the physical remodeling of both the City’s and the County’s educational spaces. Both spaces focus on teaching visitors how to “close the loop” buy recycling and using products made from recycled materials. Both spaces also have a focus on place based education showing how recycling and waste reduction can take place in our communities. The City of Milwaukee’s space was completed in 2017 and Waukesha County’s space was completed in 2018. Thousands of people visit each space every year.

The next step was to harmonize recycling education. In partnership with The Recycling Partnership, the City and County worked with their processor, Republic Services, to identify an in-depth list of categorized materials. Materials are either accepted, accepted but not promoted, not accepted, or not accepted and can cause damage. To create the list the municipal representatives engaged operations staff, material marketing staff, and corporate staff from Republic Services. This list was then used to create several assets including a new recycling guide.

To share the new information with a variety of stakeholders, the City and County, in collaboration with the Recycling Partnership, hosted a MRFshed Workshop. This day of training in July 2018 brought together representative from every MRF in Southeastern Wisconsin, the DNR, and municipal representatives in charge of education, outreach, and driver supervision. Through a variety of conversations common experiences and issues were identified. The major outcomes were a realization of a priority regional message to promote that bags and plastic film do not belong in curbside containers and that materials should be loose for collection. There was also an interest in continuing the conversation and many of the same individuals attended the MRF meeting with the DNR that was later scheduled.

The vision for this project is to make recycling information clear and engaging. This is done both through clear recycling guides that are based on the MRFshed rather than the hauler or the individual community. Further, residents that visit a physical space to learn about recycling will not only learn what goes into the bin, but how it impacts the larger community and environment and be motivated to reduce waste, compost, and purchased recycled materials.

The goals of the project included *Redesign 2 educational spaces. This goal was exceeded, as the observation room of the MRF, in addition to the City’s main educational space and Waukesha County’s exhibit space at Retzer Nature Center were remodeled. *Work with MRF operator to identify recyclable materials. *Create a new recycling guide for 27 Waukesha County municipalities and the City of Milwaukee to utilize *Identify and promote a list of the top contaminates *Engage additional stakeholders to get buy-in for additional, harmonized messages. This goal was exceeded, as the original MRFshed workshop fed into the DNR’s event and City staff also presented about the project on an EPA webinar on October 18.

The new guide can be seen on Waukesha County’s website located at https://www.waukeshacounty.gov/globalassets/parks--land-use/recycling/recycling-guide-final-jan.-2019.pdf

Key Partners included • Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful and Retzer Nature Center (renovation space) • Atomic Wash and Communicor (space design) • Republic Services (MRF Operator) • The Recycling Partnership (MRFshed Project Assistance)

In total, this project not only benefits the residents of the City of Milwaukee and Waukesha County, but the team has made an effort to share the experience with other professionals through workshops and a webinar so that other communities can recreate the harmonization project in their own communities.



Outstanding Achievement in Recycling Award

7 Rivers Recycling

7 Rivers Recycling, Wisconsin’s only mattress recycler, began recycling mattresses in 2014 in fulfillment of the La Crosse County vision to get mattresses out of the landfill and recycled. What 7RR does with old mattresses is: filets them like a fish is fileted; separates the exposed materials; organizes the material; and sends the materials to markets. The primary materials are foam, metal, wood and ticking. All these have markets. Additionally, 7RR has many trial efforts to repurpose some of the materials into non-bedding products. La Crosse County initially looked to two other mattress recyclers, but they went out of business. La Crosse County then reached out in a public-private partnership with 7 Rivers Recycling (7RR) for mattress recycling. Previously, 7RR had been collecting e-waste and light bulbs, but this partnership to recycle mattresses fit well with 7RR’s vision

7RR’s vision is to: Recycle materials that are a bit unique or special; Operate as a triple-bottom-line business. (Being a triple-bottom-line means to balance what are often competing issues of treating people, the planet and making a profit in an equitable way.); Replicate its recycling business in Wisconsin communities through public-private partnerships; and, Integrate into the communities it serves

This triple-bottom-line vision has been challenging, but 7RR has been successful in meeting recycling goals of 85%-90% of a mattress; paying a living wage to its employees; and the owners believe an acceptable profit will come if they stay true to their vision. Perhaps the biggest recycling goal attained has been to stay in business while at the same time watching other mattress recyclers act unscrupulously and or go out of business thereby leaving a tarnished image of mattress recycling.

7RR has yet to replicate its model through another public-private partnerships but expects that will come because its makes environmental sense to deconstruct mattresses relatively close to where they are discarded instead of shipping them hundreds of miles. As 7RR seeks to replicate its business, it has been recognized in 2018 as a finalist in the Force for Positive Change award provided by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and as the 2018 Sustainable Processor of the year award provided by the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council.

7RR has integrated into the community in many ways including: • Having high school students in the region participate in a design competition of creating the 7RR logo and providing over $1,000 in awards with local business leaders judging the designs. • Having high school students compete in developing upcycled projects from mattress materials • Providing tours and or talks to students and faculty of the 3 local institutions of higher learning. • Providing free upcycled mattress felt to the YMCA Food Forest and other community projects for landscaping fabric. • Providing ongoing updates and presentations to local governmental committees. In addition to integrating locally 7RR has: • Provided presentations at state conferences. • Given a tour of its operation to the Wisconsin Council on Recycling.

  • Founded and is the “Owner” of the global LinkedIn group Mattress Recycling Connection, with over 300 members from 6 continents. A resource rich website, www.7RiversRecycling.com , providing information and tools for anyone interested in mattress recycling.

Since 2014, 7RR has recycled 30,000 mattresses (combination of mattresses and box springs) from La Crosse County; City of La Crosse; Houston County; Juneau County; Dane County; Oxford Prison; Ft McCoy; Great Lakes Navy Station in Chicago; Viterbo University; mattress stores, many hotels and the public. Mattresses are inherently recyclable and consume a disproportional amount of landfill space making them a resource that not only shouldn’t be wasted but a very expensive resource to bury.


outstanding Achievement: Student

Susanna Baker, UWSP Student

Susanna Baker is the Compost Intern with Rising Sand Organics (RSO). She is in her 3rd year of school at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and has settled into a commitment to learning about and understanding waste and her environment. Susanna expressed an interest in composting to a UWSP faculty member and while not knowing too much about the thing, and he threw her a mixed bag of ways to learn more and get involved. This brought Susanna to being an intern for RSO Compost Collection Servce. 

That was back in June 2018. Since then Susanna has helped RSO to successfully carry out the curbside service and scale up their routine. She is the official Bucket-Swapper of RSO, hopping in and out of the van, truck, whatever vehicle is working that day, to pick up compost from residencies, businesses, and our free drop-site.

Susanna is also one of 5 students in the UW – Stevens Point’s project-based, capstone class for waste majors (WSTE 485). In this class the students are tasked with advancing organics management in Stevens Point. 

Through both of these projects Susanna has displayed impressive levels of dedication and motivation. She exercises excellent communication by listening intently and always questioning for more details, more perspectives, more ways to understand. In whatever future career she pursues she will be an asset as a compassionate yet critical thinker. As Susanna continues to grow, learn, and act on her own volition, the community of waste and resource managers will gain yet another wise and authentic young professional ready to take on the challenges of our extremely dynamic world. We can’t wait to see what she will do.


Outstanding Achievement in Recycling: Youth Emerging Leader

Jerome Dickens attends Thorp Elementary School in Thorp, WI. In February/March of 2018, Jerome created a recycling competition among his fellow classmates to not only increase recycling but to increase students & teachers’ ability to recycle correctly! The school was divided into groups or pods based on grade level and were asked to recycle correctly. Jerome created a contest were the trash and recycling bins were monitored for just over a month and each pod was awarded points for recycling, but points were also subtracted for not recycling correctly.

Jerome and fellow classmates would go through the trash and recycling containers each week and award points to each pod based on their recycling abilities. At the end of the competition the 3rd graders were the winners!

When asked why he choose to create a recycling competition at school, his answer… “because I didn’t like seeing everything go into the trash.”


Certificate of Recognition

Waste Management Society, UWSP 

The mission of UWSP's Waste Management Society is to “promote positive interests and impacts in the environment and our local and global communities as they relate to waste resources” and is open to all students, because, “we all create…solid wastes” and by joining the Society members will better understand their “human impact (both positive and negative) on our resources, how different waste management processes work, and mitigate change to improve these systems to better human, environmental, and economic health”.

However, in reality the members of this group are students in the Waste Management and Soils degree area. These students, regardless of their level of leadership within the group work on ways to not only build capacity within their ranks, but also to educate others about topics like source reduction, composting, recycling and waste avoidance.

Here are few examples of the work of the Waste Management Society in the past year (and remember, they did all of this stuff while working jobs and on a degree!):

1. Upcycle Your Way to a Free Holiday 2018 Campaign & Workshop: Education & outreach campaign to help students “rethink” gift giving to include ways to reduce waste, repurpose items destined for the trash and recreate unique gifts. Workshop stations included taking tattered t-shirts or fleece items and make then into pull toys for dogs and creating a Winogradsky column (microbial food source for house plants made with post-consumer waste) to give to those with or without a green thumb.

2. Promoted America Recycles Day with posters and Facebook messages.

3. Promoted Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program and got students to take the “Energy Pledge” to reduce their energy footprint.

4. Conducted a recycling right campaign with a focus on keeping plastic bags/film out of the recycling bin.

5. Electronics recycling event: Collection event to capture the large number of electronics devices discarded at the end of the academic year. Members worked on a massive education and outreach campaign to garner support from the student body, which lead to the collection of 12 pallets of old electronics.

6. DIY Composting Video: Student led hands-on workshop to help other students understand the benefits of composting and learn how easy it is to compost right.

7. Teamed Adopt a River for a spring clean-up along the Wisconsin River.

8. Hosted “Trash Talk” at the Student Involvement Fair: Members discussed with students and faculty how all contribute to waste production and waste reduction/avoidance is everyone’s responsibility.

9. Participate in the 2018 Eco Fair during Earth Week, sharing information on recycling, waste reduction and composting.


Suter, a pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers since 2017, started a campaign during the Brewers’ 2019 spring training season called Strike Out Waste with the goal to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated from single-use plastic water bottles. Suter worked with the Zulu company to provide players and coaching staff with one of their reusable glass bottles.

While AROW, a nonprofit organization that provides proactive leadership in Wisconsin on waste reduction and recycling, just recently held their annual awards ceremony during the 2019 Wisconsin Integrated Resource Management Conference (www.wirmc.org) in Stevens Point, after learning about Mr. Suter’s efforts they decided he should be recognized as well under a new category.

“Through our awards we honor and recognize people and entities that take the extra steps to promote waste reduction and recycling, whether in their schools, communities, or businesses. So when we learned about Brent Suter’s efforts, we felt it was just as important to recognize a professional athlete who goes over and beyond to make a difference within his/her team or their sport in general. It often takes that one special person to be the ‘spark plug’ for igniting ideas and inspiring others to take action. Mr. Suter has clearly demonstrated his passion towards waste reduction throughout his baseball career and we wanted to recognize and thank him.” stated Karin Sieg, AROW’s Executive Director.

Prior to this campaign, the Brewers would on average use about 20 cases of bottled water a day during spring training. While technically the plastic bottles can be recycled, single-use containers made from nonrenewable petroleum-based resources still require energy to be produced, filled, and then transported. Furthermore, only about one-third of all plastic containers generated ever reach a recycling bin. Encouraging players to use a reusable water bottle saves those resources and helps to reduce the amount of plastic material needed to be managed as a whole by the Brewers team.

CLICK HERE for full Brent Suter award press release.


CLICK HERE for full 2019 Awards Press Release

CLICK HERE for a listing of past Award Recipients.

Annual Awards

Do you know of an individual or organization that made an outstanding effort to the
Recycling and Waste Reduction Community in 2019?  If so, we will want to hear about them. 

Award Criteria (see nomination form for more details):
  • Awards will recognize a person, company or government entity for recycling initiatives undertaken in the previous calendar year.
  • An individual/program does not need to be an AROW member, but they must be nominated by an AROW member to qualify for an award. (Student award nominees excluded.)
Nomination period for 2020 awards will open in the fall of 2019.



CLICK HERE for a listing of past Award Recipients.

Copyright 2019, Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin

AROW is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. | P.O. Box 54, Stevens Point, WI 54481 | o: 715.343.0722 | c: 715.347.5979

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software