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Steve Melstrom

The prestigious Christy Dixon Recycler of the Year Award was awarded to Steve Melstrom, retired Pierce County Solid Waste Administrator, located in Ellsworth, WI. This recognition is given to an individual whose career demonstrates the highest professional standards. Steve has been a leader in the waste and recycling industry for over 30 years.


In his time with Pierce County, Steve has worked his way up to become the administrator and has overseen and advocated for many changes and improvements to the county’s recycling system. Steve has been a part of the county’s transition from source separated collection, to building a dual-stream MRF, to adding new materials to their recycling stream over the years. He has helped expand access to drop-off sites for the primarily rural residents of Pierce County.


Steve was passionate about recycling education, particularly in schools. He worked with many of the counties school districts to help provide access to recycling containers, promote recycling at school and athletic events and provided a carton recycling program for schools.


Steve believed in the regional approach to recycling as evident through many partnerships with counties in western Wisconsin for education efforts, Clean Sweep Hazardous Waste collections and processing recyclables. Steve was an active member of the Western Wisconsin recycling group and was always willing to take the time to listen and talk through issues with anyone in the industry. He is a wealth of institutional knowledge of the solid waste industry in western Wisconsin and will be truly missed in the industry in his retirement.

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Outagamie County Resource Recovery Park

After nine months of designing and constructing the expansion from their previous residential drop-off site to its new location just west of their Transfer Station, the Outagamie County Recycling & Solid Waste Department opened their Resource Recovery Park (RRP) to the public on October 15, 2020. The RPP was designed with the intention of making it easier for customers to safely source separate and unload their materials.

Their Resource Recovery Park features two lanes of one-way traffic to encourage a continuous flow of customers with 15 mirrored dumpsters on each side of the lanes. A total of 30 source separated dumpsters are arranged in a “z pattern” that are all colorfully coordinated to their designated materials. Outagamie’s source separation goal focuses on eight different material outlets: Clean Wood, Construction & Demolition, Metal, Recycling, Rigid Plastics, Furniture, Mattresses & Box Springs,
and Trash. The placement and design of Outagamie’s RRP dumpsters have been ergonomically designed for their customers’ ease of use. The dumpsters are designed with the front wall lower than the back wall and they are countersunk to the ramp to allow for their customers to safely unload their materials from vehicle height. This design also maximizes the storage capacity of the dumpsters, which increases the efficiency of Outagamie’s operations.

Since the ultimate goal of their RRP is to create higher recovery rates of valuable resources, while creating longer term landfill airspace for their 32 municipalities, Outagamie has thoroughly developed educational materials to assist with the proper disposal of materials into their designated dumpsters. All new  customers are provided with a “Resource Recovery Park Service Guide” upon weighing in that helps guide customers to the new drop-off location with clear information on how to source separate their loads based on the colored dumpsters.

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Tom Jisko

Tom Jisko has worked at the Portage County MRF since 2008. He quickly worked his way up from presort
to Shift Lead. He has weathered four transitions (contracted staff to Veolia to Advanced Disposal to
Waste Management to Johns Disposal), and last year the combing of two shifts into one and all the
drama that comes with it.

Tom’s can-do and take-it-easy attitude is what sets him apart from everyone else. If there’s a will, he’ll
find a way to accomplish a task, no matter if it’s for the private company he was employed through or
for the County. His mentality is if it benefits the operation or is in his employee’s best interest then let’s
work together and get it done.

Being a “jack of all trades” Tom has been in charge of the Saturday PMs on the equipment, has come
into work with multiple notes from second shift for help to fix or repair a broken machine or part. I have
never had to worry about the building’s security because Tom has always made sure things were locked
up, lights were working, sidewalks were cleared, and other hazards were taken care of before staff or
the general public arrived.

Not only has helped to ease the transition between operators at our MRF, but he also works smoothly
with our Transfer Facility - lending a hand when the loader is down, or a load of cardboard was dropped
on the tipping floor. He has been and continues to be a great asset to the Portage County MRF.
Tom’s tireless work ethic and daily commitment to the Portage County MRF, as well as his commitment
to leading his fellow team members have played an integral part in the success of the Portage County
MRF over the years. Tom has a great ability to improvise, adapt and overcome in the ever changing and
challenging world of Recycling. It was an honor and privilege to work alongside Tom for 7 + successful

– Jeff Zillich, Plant Manager for WM and former supervisor

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Sustain Dane

Sustain Dane in partnership with the City of Madison and thanks in part to a grant by the Carton Council
created and taught the inaugural Master Recycler course for Madison area residents. The goal of the
two-class course was to teach residents more about recycling and waste diversion, and to empower
them to perform an outreach project to help spread information about recycling.


The Master Recycler course aims to reach audiences that may not ever engage with City resources about
recycling and waste, but they are engaged with neighborhood-level news on social media networks, or
workplace discussions. The Master Recycler programs wants to seed expertise into these communities
so there can be a trusted voice active in spaces where city government may never be present to provide
the correct advice and information. The course taught 524 individuals, and the completed outreach projects touched an estimated 44,532 people.

The projects ranged from neighborhood level social media posts, to newsletters, to a video a
grandmother made with her grandchildren to send to her friends, and a recycling sorting game at a
neighborhood Fourth of July festival. The turnout and projects exceeded all expectations. And the class will return in 2022 with more of an effort to reach diverse communities.

Sustain Dane’s stated vision is to build a “thriving and inclusive community with a sustainability
environment and economy we are proud to pass on to future generations” and to “inspire, connect, and
support people to accelerate equity and sustainable actions for community wellbeing.” The Master
Recycler course, and the good works the enrollees performed, are in line with their work.


As part of the Master Recycler work and the grant with the Carton Council, Sustain Dane also created a
website with more resources about recycling for the broader Dane County region. They posted flashy
billboards around Madison letting people know to “Recycle Better”, and even recording a recycling
video with Bucky Badger. The webpage they created is

2022 Award Recipients

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AROW Awards Descriptions: 

Christy Dixon Recycler of the Year: 

  • An individual whose career demonstrates the highest professional standards in the recycling field (includes reuse and composting). Applicant may be from the public, private, or nonprofit sector.

  • NOTE: if a person has already received this award they are not eligible to receive the award a second time.

Outstanding Achievement in Education

  • An individual or group that has excelled in environmental education, specifically related to solid waste and recycling.  Applicant may be from the public, private or nonprofit sector.

Outstanding Achievement in Recycling

  • An individual or group that has excelled with their recycling program.  Applicant may be from the public, private or nonprofit sector.

Outstanding Achievement in Waste Reduction and Recycling - Student

  • An individual that has excelled with their overall activities, or a specific project, supporting waste reduction, sustainability, recycling, and/or organics management. Applicant must be a student of higher education or recent graduate.

Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Recycling –  Youth Emerging Leader

  • A youth that has excelled with their overall activities, or a specific project, supporting waste reduction, sustainability, recycling, and/or organics management. Applicant must be a K-12 student.

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