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As part of the 2022 operating budget, the City of Madison instituted a Resource Recovery Special Charge to fund the Streets Division's recycling operations.

All Madison properties who receive recycling collection from the City of Madison will receive this special charge.  Properties that do not receive recycling collection from the City of Madison do not receive the Resource Recovery Special Charge.

The charge will appear on the monthly municipal services bill.

This is a special charge that will appear on the monthly Municipal Services bill for the residences and select businesses who use our recycling collection service.

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current rate

In 2023, the special charge rate is $4.08 a month.

In 2024, the special charge rate will be $3.95 a month.

(Why did the rate go down?  See the FAQ section.)

special charge contact options

  • Leave a message on the Special Charge Hotline at 608-243-5899. Your call will be returned as soon as we can.




Residential Properties

The monthly RRSC is charge per residential unit, or dwelling unit, within the property.

Single-family homes and multi-family buildings of 8 or fewer units that receive recycling collection from the Streets Division are enrolled in the Resource Recovery Special Charges.  These properties cannot opt out of the charge.

For example, if you have a single-family home the charge would be $4.08 a month in 2023 since this building has just one dwelling unit. 

To continue with the example, if a building is a 4-unit apartment the charge would then be the monthly rate times four - in 2023 that would be $16.32 a month.


Multi-family buildings larger than 8 units are not allowed to receive collections from the Streets Division per a resolution in 2010. Buildings of this size must secure private services. These buildings will not receive the special charge since they do not receive city recycling collection.

Some Madison homes receive their recycling collection from private haulers on carriage lanes or private roads. These residents also are not charged the special charge since they do not receive City recycling collection services.

Large Item Collection Fees

Starting on December 27, 2023, residents who pay the RRSC no longer have to pay the recycling fee for certain large items like dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and so on when they schedule their large item work orders to have these items collected. 

Also, these items that require a fee will also be accepted at the drop-off sites from RRSC ratepayers beginning on Thursday, December 28, 2023 at no additional cost.


If you do not pay the RRSC at your home, you will still need to pay the necessary large item fee for either curbside pickup or taking items to a drop-off site for these select items that have a cost.


Commercial Properties

Commercial properties must elect to opt into our recycling collection services using the steps described below.  Commercial property can elect to use private haulers instead.  Keep in mind that recycling is mandatory in the City of Madison, and failure to provide recycling services could result in fines.

Not all business can utilize Streets Division collections for recycling due to the volume of material they generate or other concerns.  Those that can utilize the service will be required to pay the Resource Recovery Special Charge.

They will be charged the monthly rate times the number of recycling carts they need to hold the recyclables they generate.


Commercial property eligibility

In order for a business to be able to eligible for our collection services, they will first need to make a request for the services.

Requests can be made by completing this online form.

You can also send an email request to

You can also call and leave a voicemail at 608-243-5899. 

Upon receipt of the request, a supervisor will assess your property to see if you can receive our collection services.

To be eligible for city services you will need:

  • The appropriate frontage space adjacent to your property to have the carts out for collection,
  • The ability to place the recyclables generated into collection carts,
  • The ability to follow all recycling guidelines as to what should be inside the cart,
  • The ability to store the carts within City of Madison ordinance,
  • The ability to have the carts out on time for the scheduled collection day.

Cart usage & storage requirements

Businesses and multi-family buildings that are unable to follow the cart usage and cart storage rules may be ruled ineligible for city collection services and required to obtain private recycling collection.

The ordinance regarding cart storage is enforced by Building Inspection.

You can read the relevant ordinances here: MGO 10.18; MGO 7.36; and MGO 27.04(2)(c).

If you want the basics without reading the ordinances, you can find Building Inspection's guide here.


frequently asked questions

Why is it called the "Resource Recovery Special Charge"?

When you recycle, we recover resources from those materials.


  • Explaining the Special Charge

The special charge was passed as part of the 2022 operating budget and it is expected to continue in additional budgets to come.

The City’s costs to provide services - all services, not just recycling - are higher than its ability to generate revenue to pay for these services. This is called a "structural deficit."

The State has placed limits on local governments’ ability to increase property taxes while also limiting state aid to cities. 

There are two options to address this gap in funding. 

One option is to provide fewer services and the other is to find new ways to pay for services through mechanisms like special charges.

Cuts were made.  In the same 2022 budget that created the special charge, the Mayor and Council cut $1.4 million from the budgets of almost every department.

In order to continue providing services to Madison residents, the City must utilize its ability to cover some costs through special charges. 

One of the services provided by Madison that can be shifted from the property taxes to a special charge is recycling.

The Resource Recovery Special Charge is collected through Madison Municipal Services bill. The funds are then allocated into a designated fund.

These funds will then be used specifically to pay for the costs already incurred by the City to support the recycling program.


  • Setting the Rate

The Common Council sets the rate each year.

The yearly amount is expected to be a simple formula where the costs of the recycling services are divided by the number of entities served by the Streets Division.

The charge is a flat amount across all entities that receive recycling services from the City Streets Division. If you receive our services, then the Resource Recovery Special Charge applies.

The rate decreased in 2024 when compared to 2023 due to a couple factors. 

First, as the city grows and more users of the Streets Division recycling services are added, then the costs for the services can be spread over more residents.

Also going into 2024, the value of the recycables we collected from Madison homes has stayed healthy enough to keep costs down as well.

Madison residents can help keep costs down with recycling by only placing the correct items into the recycling carts.

When you put the wrong things into the recycling cart, that means we are charged more fees by our vendor to remove all that extra trash or debris that shouldn't be in the recycling carts in the first place. 

So when you follow the recycling rules, you help make this special charge cheaper.


  • Attempting to Reduce the Cost of the RRSC

There are no ways to reduce the amount you pay for the RRSC.  For example, putting the recycling cart out fewer times does not lower your RRSC rate.

The special charge isn't specifically about processing or sorting the material you generate.  It's about funding the entire collection system, including recyclables at the drop-off sites. 

Recycling is mandatory in the City of Madison, and throughout all of Wisconsin. Failing to recycle can result in fines from Building Inspection and the Streets Division will stop collecting your trash if recyclables are found in the tan cart for your home or business. Recyclables are banned from landfills in Wisconsin, too.

There are two ways that some charges can be applied in a progressive manner (which are explained below). However, they do not apply to the Resource Recovery Special Charge.

  • Paying more if you use more:

This is a concept that works well with some bills, but not recycling. For example, on your Municipal Services bill you pay per gallon of water used.  This encourages conservation.

With recycling, recycling more (and recycling right) is a good thing. The special charge is not designed to encourage people to recycle less.


  • Paying less if you have a lower income:

State law does not allow differentiation by income in setting this charge.  


  • Large Item Collection and the RRSC

Starting on December 27, 2023, residents who pay the RRSC will not pay the recycling fee for the certain large items that require one when they schedule large item work orders.  This fee will be covered by the charge instead.  Items that require a fee will also be accepted at the drop-off sites from RRSC ratepayers without an additional fee starting on Thursday, December 28, 2023.

This will continue so long as the budget for the RRSC includes funding to cover the costs associated with the recycling of these large items.

Residents who do not pay the RRSC will still need to pay the necessary fees for the select items that require special handling, and therefore have a fee.


  • RRSC and Trash to the Landfill

The special charge is only for recycling services. 

The RRSC is not about trash collection services provides provided by the City of Madison.

If you receive trash collection in carts from the City of Madison, you may continue doing so with no change or special charge for the service. Current state law prevents trash services from being shifted to a special charge.


  • Collection Carts and the RRSC

Multi-family buildings that use Streets Division recycling services will be allowed an equal number of recycling carts to the number of apartments within the building. 

You must use and store your carts correctly in order to continue service with the Streets Division.

Your recyclables, including cardboard, must be placed into a recycling cart for collection.  Failure to do so may result in the recyclables not being collected.


  • Homes, Apartments, Businesses and the RRSC

This charge only applies to those served by the Streets Division recycling program.  The residential and commercial properties served by the Streets Division are explained above.

Many commercial buildings, large apartment or condo buildings, and some homes served via private roads or carriage lanes receive recycling services through a private company.

If you are served by a private company at your business or home, you will not receive this special charge, as you already pay for recycling services separately.

If your multi-family building is larger than 8 units, then you will be ineligible to receive city collections.

There are some outlier situations where buildings that contain more than 8 units have been collected by the Streets Division prior to the instituting of this special charge, but these are rare exceptions.

The special cases may continue receiving city collection services provided they pay the appropriate special charge (which is the monthly rate times the number of dwelling units in the building that uses the carts) and the carts are used & stored correctly.

If the properties with more than 8 units wish to opt out of city collection to instead use private service for their trash and recycling, they may do so. 

Buildings of 8 units and fewer must use city collection services in most instances.


Choosing a Private Hauler instead of the Streets Division

Existing residential customers in buildings of 8 units and fewer cannot opt out of the City recycling service.

Businesses and multi-family buildings of more than 8 units can elect to use private haulers. The City of Madison does not use zones or similar structure to limit which vendor can be selected to be the private hauler for your business or large complex.

If you do elect to use a private hauler for recycling services, you will not be charged the Resource Recovery Special Charge.

Be mindful of ordinances about dumpster placement and enclosures.

Contact Building Inspection at 608-266-4551 for details regarding these ordinances.



Apartments on top of a Business

Let's use an example. 

Say there's three apartments above a coffee shop and all of them use City of Madison recycling collection. 

The bill for the property would be the monthly rate for the RRSC for each of the apartments, and then add in the number of carts the coffee shop needs to successfully recycle the materials they generate.

To continue the example, let's assume the coffee shop requires 2 recycling carts for their cardboard, clean takeout cups, and other material.

The total charge for this example building would add the apartments RRSC (3 apartments x $4.08 = $12.24) to the coffee shop's RRSC (2 carts x $4.08 = $8.16) for a total monthly RRSC for this property of $20.40.

Not every situation will be this straightforward. Feel free to contact us to work out what is right for your property.


Adding a Dwelling Unit (including Accessory Dwelling Unit Additions)

If you add a dwelling unit to your home, then you are adding an additional Resource Recovery Special Charge to your property as well. 

 For example, if you added a dwelling unit to your duplex in 2024, and your property now has three dwelling units on it instead of just two, then your special charge would go up as well.  So, instead of your monthly rate being $7.90 (2 dwelling units x $3.95), your new monthly rate would be $11.85 (3 dwelling units x $3.95).


what happens to your recycling?

Watch a video about the Pellitteri Waste Systems recycling facility sorts everything you have placed into the recycling carts.