Creating a Circular Economy

Many products and materials only get one shot at usefulness, traveling in a linear fashion from production to consumption and then end up in a landfill or incinerator. A circular economy aims to change this paradigm by keeping materials, products, and services in circulation for as long possible. And by recovering raw materials after the lifetime of products for their next use, a circular economy produces zero waste.

A circular economy reduces greenhouse gas emissions, protects the environment, provides economic resilience, and advances environmental justice by reducing the negative environmental and health impacts caused by a non-circular economy that disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color. 

The City of Madison is working with partners across our region to help grow a circular economy, deliver programs to end food waste, support recycling, and invest in business and research. The City of Madison is partnering with Dane County to create the Yahara Hills Sustainablity Campus to help advance a circular economy for our community. The Sustainability Campus will serve as a hub for reuse, repair, and recycling businesses; implementation of new waste management technologies; and research and innovation. The campus will also be open to the public for education and recreation. Visit the project page to learn more about this exciting new collaboration.

Our Plan to End Food Waste

Plan. Use. Create. Scrap. Logo
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 30 to 40% of food is wasted in the United States. That's food that could help feed families and contribute to the wellbeing of our community. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 20.5% of our landfills consist of food, making food waste the largest component of our waste stream. Once in our landfill, organic material like food scraps decompose and create methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, and the nutrients that the food could return to the soil to support future agriculture production are lost. 

The City of Madison has a plan for ending food waste in just four easy steps. Check out the Plan. Use. Create. Scrap. resources provided by the Streets and Recycling Division to learn how you can avoid food waste.

Two volunteers greet guests at the Farmers's Market Food Scrap Drop Off Site


Farmers'  Market Food Scrap Drop Off

You can participate in the circular economy by dropping off your food scraps at the South Madison or Eastside Farmers markets on Tuesdays from June 14 to October 25. The program is free and open to the public for all households in Madison. Visit Sustain Dane to learn more about what types of food can be dropped off for composting, how much food waste has been collected so far, and how you can volunteer.

South Madison Farmers’ Market  

  • Tuesdays 2:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M 
  • 1602 South Park Street on the grounds of the Madison Labor Temple  
  • Website –
  • If inclement weather, check the South Madison Farmers’ Market social media updates here to see if market is canceled.
  • Parking available on Wingra Drive for food scraps drop off and shopping at market.

Eastside Farmers’ Market  

  • Tuesdays 4:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. 

  • 202 S Ingersoll St, Madison, WI 53703 at McPike Park 

  • Website –

  • Market will be open rain or shine. See Eastside Farmers’ Market social media updates here.

Farmers' Market Food Scrap Collection is a collaborative effort with partners Sustain DaneNeighborhood Food Solutions (NFS) farm, and Farm2Facts. This work is funded a grant from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)  Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Dane County Department of Waste & Renewables (2022 Organics Management Grant). 

Recycling2021 Recyclopedia

Recycling is another key way to keep materials out of the landfull, reduce consumption of raw materials, and help our environment. The City of Madison's Streets Division provides information, resources, and services to make recycling easy. 

The 2021 Recyclopedia is your comprehensive resource for learning what can be recycled in Madison, how curbside recycling collection works, and which types of items need to be dropped off at City or County collection sites, such as electronics and large items.

Recyclables collected by the City of Madison Streets Division has too much trash in it. Approximately 13% of all the material collected from the green carts is actually trash that should not be there. By the end of 2021, we had over 2,000 tons of trash in our recyclables.We can certainly recycle better. And you can help.

In your own cart, be sure you are recycling right by following the Streets Division guidelines that you can find online at, in the Recyclopedia, in our flyers, and maybe even on your refrigerator or the lid of your recycling cart.

You can also ask a certified Master Recycler, and become one yourself to help your friends and neighbors. 

Become a Master Recycler

Since 2021 Sustain Dane, in partnership with the City of Madison, provided a Master Recycler course that teaches you how to make the most of our local recycling system. The course teaches you about how to recycle the right way in their home and also provides you with tools so you can share your knowledge with your friends, neighbors, relatives, coworkers, fellow congregants, and others in your life so they will know how to recycle right, too.

About the Master Recycler Course

The course received a Wisconsin Recycling Excellence Award by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in 2021 and was also recently recognized by the Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin for an Outstanding Achievement in Recycling Education.

In 2021, over 500 people attended the Master Recycler course, and the 2022 class is already underway! And the outreach projects they completed reached over 44,000 residents of Dane County. The projects ranged from newsletters to neighborhood social media posts to presentations to a video a grandmother made with her grandchildren and shared with her family and friends.

Check back soon to learn when the next course will be offered.

Additional Information

For more information about the City of Madison Streets Division’s recycling program, please visit
For more information about Sustain Dane and all of the classes and services they provide (including the Master Recycler class), visit