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Recycling 101

By LaVerne C. Paulson

Thu, Dec 26th, 2013
Posted in All Home & Garden

Many of the residents of Fillmore County have been recycling for more than three decades. During this time, there have been many changes in the recycling practices and procedures. Some of us can remember when newspapers and aluminum cans were the main items. Today, most of your household waste, by volume, is recyclable, greatly reducing the amount of real garbage you send to the landfill.

In an article I wrote in 2008, Minnesota’s recycling goal was to reach 50 percent, and Fillmore County’s goal was 35 percent. Recent reports show that both these rates are on the verge of being met, if not actually achieved. The residents of Fillmore County and the entire state of Minnesota are to be commended for their efforts. As more individuals better understand the true benefits of recycling, and the impact it will have on the environment and their grandchildren, these rates will continue to rise. Fillmore County can certainly set 40 percent as its next goal in a few short years.

Over the years, we have made the art of recycling much more “user friendly.” There was a time when you needed an aluminum container, a tin can container, a plastic container, and separate containers for brown glass, green glass, and clear glass. There were usually different days for different recyclables to be picked up. Newspapers and other forms of paper were either tied neatly in bundles or placed in paper grocery bags for curbside pickup.

Then came two-sort recycling. It was much easier with only two kinds of recyclables, fibers and rigids. Instead of all kinds of containers, only two were needed and all you had to remember was what recyclable was being picked up each week. Most of us thought it couldn’t get much easier than that.

But it did. In 2011, Fillmore County began single stream recycling. Now there is no sorting and no wondering what is going to get picked up this week, or next. All recyclables go into the same bin here in Preston, are taken to Rochester, sent to the Cities, and then separated by a very large machine. To seasoned fiber and rigid recyclers, single stream recycling makes the recycling center look a bit on the messy side with everything mixed together, but trust me, it does get separated and it does get sent to different factories, mostly in Minnesota, to get made into new, recycled products that are back on store shelves in just a few short weeks.

Curbside recycling, which is available to most city residents, brings a lot of material to the recycling center each week. However, I believe there is a growing number of Fillmore County residents that are using the rural containers, as well as those that deliver their recyclables right here to the recycling center.

These frequent articles in the Fillmore County Journal get recycling information out to you, the residents of the county. The need to increase the knowledge of recycling and the need to improve our participation is important. More than 11,000 copies of this newspaper are delivered to mailboxes throughout the county each week, assuring many of us that this information is reaching a lot of households.

Happy New Year and Happy Recycling from your Fillmore County Recycling Staff.

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