Archived Story

When does new recycling program begin?

Published 9:58am Monday, June 10, 2013

Column: Solid Waste Office, by Randy Tuchtenhagen

Many people have been asking about the new recycling program and the changes that will come this fall. Last month the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners approved a new recycling contract with Waste Management, and in the new contract are some changes that we hope will improve service, increase recycling tonnages and add new items that can be recycled.

Randy Tuchtenhagen
Randy Tuchtenhagen

With new machinery and the development of new technology we are now able to accept more of the low-grade material that in the past was considered contamination. As mentioned last month in my article, starting immediately we now take egg cartons in the recycling. No Styrofoam!

In fact, we will take just about anything made from wood pulp including butter boxes, frozen food boxes, waxy milk cartons, bacon boxes and such packaging from the freezer. Also, we now collect the No. 6 plastics such as a pie cover, cake cover and clamshell food storage boxes that in the past were not acceptable. No Styrofoam!

Another change this fall in our recycling program will be that all households that currently receive curbside collection will receive a 64 gallon cart on wheels. On collection day, simply roll the cart down the driveway and an automated truck will dump it.

This means the driver will not have to get out of the truck at each stop and improve safety for everyone. The company will maintain the carts if they are damaged and in a few instances, there may be homes that require two carts to handle the volume of material.

In addition, churches in incorporated cities will get a couple of carts for their recycling programs at no cost. This program has been so successful in other counties and states that we anticipate our recycling tonnage to increase dramatically. Everything will be commingled together in the can, but we ask that all paper still be put in a paper sack or tied in a bundle. Loose paper means litter and blowing on windy days or when dumping the cart into the truck.

Although the implementing of the new contract seems far away right now, it will take some time to order the thousands of carts for everyone and prepare the new truck. Meanwhile we will be working on the details of implementing the new program. We have planned for a new booth in the Commercial Building at the Freeborn County Fair this summer so people can stop by to learn about the details of the new program and see the carts. We are also working on a new recycling instruction sheet that has more pictures and clear information about what is recyclable and what is not.

One issue that reminds us of the importance of recycling is the million-plus dollars our county spends each year to landfill garbage, and much of it is recyclable. You will spend many dollars on garbage service if you do not recycle everything possible and the savings are significant. And statistics we have do not include the state taxes you pay for trash service. There is no tax on recyclables.


Randy Tuchtenhagen is the Freeborn County solid waste officer.