Too many recyclable items are thrown away

Published 9:09 am Thursday, October 23, 2008

As promised a few months back I have some statistics about recycling and Web sites you can visit that have interesting information. I am cautious about giving out some Internet sites because once you register to gain access to their information they sell your e-mail address to hundreds of advertisers and junk e-mail is as bad as the junk snail mail we receive in our box each day.

In Minnesota, we throw away 1.3 million tons of recyclable material each year. Our state residents can do more. Businesses, residents, schools and organizations can help benefit our energy, economy and environment by taking the simplest of actions — recycling more paper. The loads of trash going into landfills today still contain up to 30 percent paper and paper products that could have been recycled. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency estimates the value of the 1.3 million tons of recyclable material thrown away each year at $312 million. It costs us another $200 million in hauling and managing landfills to throw this material away. Let’s put it back into our economy.

Current statistics show that the production of recycled content paper uses 65 percent less energy than producing paper with virgin materials and produces 95 percent less air pollution than using raw materials. In 2006, Minnesota recycled more than 1 million tons of paper products. When you purchase paper, check for recycled content which should be at least 25 percent or more. Check out for more information about recycling at home and at work.

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Freeborn County is a member of Recycling Association of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization with more than 200 members from the public, private and nonprofit sectors. The Minnesota affiliate of the National Recycling Coalition, RAM is committed to promoting resource conservation through waste prevention, reuse, recycling, composting and purchasing practices using the most cost effective and environmentally sound methods available in Minnesota.

Recycle More Minnesota

This campaign is a joint effort between the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and RAM to help increase awareness about recycling throughout the state. From county to county, not all recycling programs are exactly the same, but have common goals: recycle more materials.

Many counties operate their own recycling center, some contract with private companies and many have the garbage haulers pick up recycling. To accomplish the goal of increasing awareness about recycling, we will see more advertising and hopefully more recycling opportunities in the next few months.
30 percent of the paper the Tribune prints on comes from recycled material.

100 percent of the waste paper produced at the Tribune building is recycled.

— Albert Lea Tribune
This article is one of the many programs we will conduct to increase awareness about recycling. Another Web site to visit is Reducing waste is even more cost effective than recycling. Another Web site with some interesting information about use of environmentally responsible products and services is

A law meant to increase recycling rates of beverage containers was introduced in the Minnesota House last session. HF 4046 would have required recycling any drink container in liquid form for human consumption. The measure also required manufacturers achieve a recycling rate of no less than 80 percent. Another bill, HF 4047 would have established a redemption value of no less than 10 cent per container and HF 4048 would have banned all covered beverage containers from landfills.

Although none of these bills were passed before the Legislature adjourned, in the future I think we may see more emphasis on recycling, reducing waste and recognizing value in waste instead of disposal. While a “bottle bill” probably won’t reduce litter in the ditches, it has merit and encourages people to recycle where they may not have otherwise done so in the past.

Randy Tuchtenhagen is the Freeborn County solid waste officer.