What can and cannot be recycled

I want to commend all of you who are out there working to get your recycling out to the curb or out to the recycling rolloffs. Thank you to all of those who are out there clearing snow away and those who are out there picking up our recycling and trash too. This winter sure has put many of us to the test. Despite our struggles with getting our trash and recyclables to the curb, we were still able to recycle nearly 140 tons of materials between Jan. 21 and Feb. 18. We have been fielding many questions about whether or not the recycling sheds and rolloffs have had the snow cleared away and it surely has been a work in progress!

We have been working at keeping everyone up to date on recycling through our Facebook page. Please go to Lyon County, Minnesota on the Facebook page or app. The nice part of having this as an informative tool is that it will always be the most up to date information that we have. We have been posting information on what NOT to recycle along with what TO recycle and how to recycle those items. It can be confusing because it may seem like the rules are constantly changing and they are! Recycling rules are also different from place to place. What we can or cannot recycle is based on what our Material Recovery Facility can find a market for. While our county neighbors to the east can no longer recycle glass, we can recycle glass in Lyon County because our recyclables go to a different facility.

Plastic can also be hard to decide if we can or cannot recycle. We sometimes have to look pretty hard to find the recycling triangle logo. Items that have the logo on the item with the numbers 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 can be recycled. We can also reduce items that are packaged in plastic by simply not purchasing them. We can reduce our plastic footprint by using reusable coffee cups or drinking containers. You will see many people going to coffee shops or gas stations and using their reusable cups. I am seeing more and more school children carrying reusable water bottles with them as well.

In the United Kingdom and in India, they have recently passed a law against single use plastics such as water bottles, plastic forks and knives, plastic plates, straws, and cotton swabs. This was after they passed successful legislation that placed a tax on single use plastic shopping bags which resulted in 9 billion less bags being used in the UK. This was a 90 percent reduction in the plastic shopping bags. This is a huge deal for the environment. The No. 1 piece of litter picked up in our area is plastic shopping bags. Hawaii is following the same track except they are trying to pass legislation that these items will be banned including plastic shopping bags.

If you prefer your information by the numbers, how about this? Since 2015, there has been 7 billon tons of plastic produced in the world of which, 79 percent of it is now sitting in landfills. If someone decided that they would go out and collect all of the plastic trash and turn it in to recycling; they would have enough money to purchase several very large companies! So, since I don’t know that many of us will be up for the challenge of collecting all of that plastic trash alone, there are a few things that we can do.

Environmentalism starts in your shopping cart and what you place in it. Choose carefully! Plastic can be difficult to recycle but only because we have specific plastics that we can recycle. We also need to add into that whole other plastic problem, plastic bags and film packaging. We can recycle not only plastic shopping bags but also film packaging such as plastic case wrap (such as what you find a case of bottled water wrapped in), newspaper bags (bags that your newspaper may have been delivered in), bread bags, produce bags, food storage bags (Ziploc bags) and napkin, paper towel, and bathroom tissue packaging can all be recycled. We often purchase these items and they are wrapped in film packaging of some sort of which the plastic film packaging is almost always recyclable. However, we can do all of our trash collection people and our recycling people a huge favor by not placing these types of materials into the trash (they blow around at the landfill) or into our recycling (they get stuck in the recycling sorting equipment) but instead bring these items back to a local store that takes them. Generally, the same places that take plastic shopping bags will also allow us to place film packaging there as well. They generally have a collection point just inside their front doors.

For more information on recycling, you can reach me at StephanieBethke-DeJaeghere@co.lyon.mn.us or call 507-532-1307. The landfill hours are Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m.-noon. The landfill is located just off of MN State Highway 23, south of Marshall and Lynd, Minnesota. The Household Hazardous Waste Facilities are located at the Lyon County Fairgrounds in Marshall and the hours are Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and every second Saturday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.