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Recycling 101

By LaVerne C. Paulson

Fri, Oct 25th, 2013
Posted in All Home & Garden

In an article published in August, I mentioned I would write an America Recycles Day article to review some recycling information and give a few examples of how a majority of us can improve many of our recycling habits a little or a lot. Fillmore County is recycling more and more material each year. This is very encouraging. With a little help from a lot of our residents, this will continue.

Recycling is the most successful environmental initiative in our country’s history. The recycling and composting rate in the United States was 7.7 percent in 1960, 17 percent in 1990, and is now somewhere around 35 percent. But, we can do better. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, throughout the United States, many easily recycled materials are still being thrown away. For example, 78 percent of glass containers, 60 percent of aluminum cans, 41 percent of steel cans, and 45 percent of paper and paper packaging are not currently recycled. Each of us must try to recycle more to ensure we all reap the many benefits of recycling.

Most of this information has been published at least once before, but as America Recycles Day approaches, a few basic ideas may be worth repeating. I would also like to remind you once more that not all the same things are recyclable in all Minnesota counties.

Almost all of your paper can be recycled. Boxes that contain anything that is meant to be frozen or refrigerated are not recyclable due to the thin plastic coating that keeps them from picking up moisture and falling apart while in your freezer or refrigerator. Items such as these are frozen dinners, frozen vegetables, pot pies, and fridge packs of soda. Parts of take home pizza boxes are recyclable if they do not contain oils or food. Paper egg cartons are not recyclable, but they make great compost. Hardcover and paperback books are recyclable in our county, as are all magazines, newspapers, and junk mail. We get a lot of cardboard every week and it all gets recycled.

Glass bottles, jelly jars, olive jars, pickle jars, and the like are recyclable. Water glasses, plates, window glass, cups, ovenware, and canning jars are not.

Plastic containers of any color, size, and shape are recyclable only if they have a “1” or a “2” inside the chasing arrow symbol on the bottom. If the symbol is missing or the number inside is other than a “1” or a “2”, it goes in the landfill garbage. Number “5” is not recyclable. No form of styrofoam is recyclable in Fillmore County. Do not put plastic bags into the rural recycling containers or the bins here at the Recycling Center. Take them back to a store that accepts them or put them in your landfill garbage.

Take the caps off your milk jugs and plastic bottles and landfill them. All steel/tin cans, along with their covers, and all aluminum cans are recyclable. Become a member of the “bag brigade.” Try composting, it’s an excellent way to lighten your weekly landfill amount and you end up with a great soil additive. Even though America Recycles Day is celebrated on November 15, improving your recycling habits should be one of your goals every day. Thank you for making the effort to become a better recycler. We need to protect all those precious natural resources for generations to come.

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