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Recycling 101


By LaVerne C. Paulson

Fri, Jul 26th, 2013
Posted in All Home & Garden

By LaVerne C. Paulson, Recycling Education Coordinator

From time to time, residents of Fillmore County ask me about common household items that are NOT recyclable. This article will deal with many of them and why they should be landfilled rather than recycled. Please keep in mind that individual counties throughout Minnesota have their own list of recyclable materials, so what may be accepted in Brown County or Itasca County may not be recyclable here in Fillmore County.

It has been said that if it looks like paper, feels like paper, and tastes like paper, it is most likely paper and is recyclable. This is not quite true. Perhaps more than 97 percent of the fiber that comes into your house is very recyclable. However, paper egg cartons are not because their fibers are too short to be made into new products. They do, however, make great compost, or give them to a friend who raises chickens. Most cardboard boxes that contain food or beverage kept in a refrigerator or freezer have a protective coating to keep them from falling apart where additional moisture may be found. Cardboard boxes used to take home pizzas are usually coated with foods and oils, especially on the covers, making them landfill material. Any part of the box that is dry and clean should be recycled. Tissue, paper towels, and candy wrappers are not meant to be recycled.

Steel/Tin cans are 100 percent recyclable, including the lids. A quick rinse and they are ready to recycle. The steel lids found on any jars of food purchased in a store are recyclable, as well as the jar itself.

Glass-like items that are not recyclable in Fillmore County are ovenware, home canning jars, window glass, mirrors, ceramics, pottery, and incandescent light bulbs. The problem here is with content and melting temperature.

Any plastic item or container that does not have a “1” or a “2” inside the chasing arrows on the bottom is not recyclable in this county. The melting points are different and they contaminate the large vats of good plastic. Most yogurt, cottage cheese containers, butter tubs and the like are not recyclable. Please make every effort to keep plastic bags of any kind out of recyclable material. Plastic bags brought to the recycling center and placed in the red bin for plastic bags are sent to the landfill. You may want to consider taking your grocery bags, bread bags, and such to one of the stores in the area that collects plastic grocery bags for recycling. The garbage bags that some of you use to transport your recyclables should be placed in the red container or taken home once emptied to be used again. Also, if you use one of the rural containers for recycling, deposit the contents loosely in the container, but not the bag itself. The plastic cover on your peanut butter jar is not recyclable, nor are the plastic caps of your water bottles, pop bottles, or milk and juice jugs. Amber pill bottles, as well as their caps, are not recyclable.

Styrofoam of any kind is not recyclable here in Fillmore County. It may have a “chasing arrows” symbol on it, but it is not a “1” or a “2”. We do not want your styrofoam, not the small peanuts nor the large pieces, so please place all styrofoam into your landfill garbage.

Plastic toys, flower pots, aluminum foil with food, lawn and deck furniture, lumber, and dirty diapers are not recyclable. If you have any questions or comments on any part of recycling in Fillmore County, please feel to contact me at lpaulson@co.fillmore.mn.us.

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