Recycling today as important as ever
About 20-30 years ago we handled waste (trash) much more differently than we do today. The ability to recycle more is now here. The ability to have more choices on how we handle our waste in the rural setting is now here. The ability to reuse more of the things that we no longer want is now here.
Unfortunately, much of our thinking and much of how we all perceive waste is still back in the days on how we approached waste and waste reduction from 20-30 years ago.
A good example of this is an old refrigerator magnet that has been hanging on some of our fridges in Lyon County that came out in the 1990s regarding how to recycle and what we can recycle. While much of the information on this refrigerator magnet is still correct, there are many things that we now can recycle that we couldn’t back then.
If you still have information at your home on recycling or trash disposal and it is older than three years, throw it away (or recycle it). Chances are that information is old and no longer correct.
I often hear from residents that recycling and trash disposal changes all the time. Not really. Changes, like most things in life, come rather slowly. For the most up to date information, call us at the Environmental Department office or go online to the Lyon County website. Some things have not changed since the beginning days of recycling. The first is aluminum cans such as pop cans or beer cans. Unfortunately, after 30 years of recycling, there are still high numbers of pop cans coming into the landfill. This is a shame because these are the easiest items to recycle. Tin/steel cans are easily recycled.
Glass bottles and jars are easily recycled. Paperboard (think cracker boxes, macaroni boxes) are easily recycled. ALL paper can be recycled except shredded paper. Shredded paper must be brought to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility or thrown away. ALL cardboard can be recycled. Plastic containers that have the plastic identification of 1, 2, and 5 can be recycled. In fact, most plastic containers are now made up of these three kinds of plastics.
Where things are different from 30 years ago are: labels can stay on (no need to remove), all caps or lids can stay on the containers (no need to remove), you don’t need to flatten anything except cardboard, and we do not take Styrofoam in our carts or community recycling roll-offs. Styrofoam needs to come to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility for free or thrown away.
We also do not take clothing in our recycling or any other kind of cloth.
We also take what was once called waxed paper packaging or waxed cardboard. 30 years ago these items (think frozen food containers, milk or juice cartons, pop and beer boxes) were covered in a wax substance.
The past 30 years, these items have been actually covered in plastic material and are very much recyclable in our system. These items are not accepted everywhere so we are fortunate that we can recycle them here.
Trash disposal has also changed. For the most part, if you live within city limits you have trash service. If you live in a rural setting, you, too, can have a trash service. There are now 31 counties in Minnesota that have adopted a no-burn resolution. In the past, it was difficult for rural residents to have trash service. This is no longer the case.
More and more rural residents are choosing to call a waste hauler to have trash services at their homes. Burn barrels do not burn hot enough to “burn off” hazardous chemicals that are in the packaging that our food comes in. Insurance companies are taking a second look at burn barrel use on farms and burn barrels are the 3rd highest cause of rural fires.
For those who live within city limits or those who live in a rural setting, you can also self-haul trash to the Lyon County Landfill. If you are cleaning out your home or your farm, residents no longer have to burn or bury items that are no longer wanted.
The fee for self-hauling to the landfill is very reasonable. Residents can also contact a waste hauler to have a dumpster placed at your residence for a fee. Keep in mind that since the 1980s, it is against the law or burn or bury household trash.
For more information, please call the Lyon County Environmental Department at (507) 532-8210.