Archived Story

Tips for using the new recycling containers

Published 9:57am Monday, December 9, 2013

Column: Solid Waste Officer, by Randy Tuchtenhagen

We have the new recycling carts just in time for the holidays and are hoping people fill them up. You can now recycle the paper egg cartons, No. 6 plastic (clear cover on pie or cake) and the milk and juice cartons from the refrigerator.

Remember, you can also recycle your gift wrapping paper, the boxes and cartons that gifts come in but not the plastic bows or string. Ribbons and string get caught in the machinery at the recycling center and we no longer want people to tie papers in a bundle.

Randy Tuchtenhagen
Randy Tuchtenhagen

More and more people are using the computer to find out information about our recycling program so rather than waiting for recycling instructions to be mailed out, check out the County website at

The Environmental Services Department has information about recycling, hazardous waste collections and other environmental information.

The recycling truck now being used to collect materials is called an “auto reach” and uses the latest technology in collection. The driver is no longer loading by hand, and a fully automated dumping mechanism with a grab arm will pick up the containers and dump them into the truck.

Because of this, it is important for everyone to place their recycling container at the curb so the automated arm can reach it and face the lid open toward the street. The advantage of this technology is that the driver saves time by not getting out of the truck, reduced fuel consumption and lower worker-compensation-related lifting injuries. Place your new recycling cart out by 7 a.m. but do not use your old recycling container. The truck lift arm would crush the can. The new carts are made to withstand the automated equipment.

Even if you have not filled your recycling container, put it out for collection on your collection week anyhow so you won’t run out of room should you experience extra items after a holiday or weekend of company. Best to have it emptied on schedule than overflowing. Routes and days are the same as before.

This holiday season, it is going to be even easier to recycle all the paper and boxes because you can throw everything loose into the recycling cart. We suggest that you rinse all your containers to prevent odors, flies or maggots from accumulating in your cart. Leave container lids on, but empty the contents. That includes wine bottles, plastic caps on juice containers, milk cartons, and the new aluminum soda cans with twist lids. Leave the lids on.

The change to the single stream recycling in counties around us have been very successful in increasing their tonnages. We hope our new recycling program will encourage more people to recycle and recycle more items. The savings on reduced garbage rates, which in turn reduces the sales tax you pay on garbage bills, is well worth the recycling effort.


Randy Tuchtenhagen is the solid waste officer for Freeborn County.

  1. Nikki Kirsch

    I’m so excited for the new single stream system. Thank You, Freeborn County for introducing them here. Now everyone in my house is recycling nearly everything (not just the pop cans) because there’s no separation! Just throw it all in the cart right outside the back door, fantastic.