Recycling can be confusing because we do not have a standard set of rules for the United States. Residents must be aware of what the rules are for their community. Generally speaking, these rules can be found either on a city webpage or on a county webpage. The rules that residents have in Lyon County are different than what the rules are, for example, in Yellow Medicine County. Residents, for the most part, have the rules down for paper, cardboard, glass, tin or steel cans and paperboard (such as macaroni boxes). For these items, making sure that they are clean, dry and free of food is the first step. The second step is to make sure that the recyclables are not bagged up. The recyclables must be dumped into the cart or shed loosely. Caps on glass or plastic items can be left on. Do not leave caps loose in recycling. Labels can also be left on. Most recycling programs take the above mentioned items but it is not always the case with plastic.
Plastic recycling can be the one recyclable item that can be tricky. Lyon County can recycle plastic resin codes 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7. We do not recycle resin codes 4 and 6. Resin code 4 includes bread bags, toys and many times, squeezable bottles. Resin code 6 includes Styrofoam items, CD cases, straws and plastic cutlery. So, how does one find the resin code on plastic items?
Residents are pretty familiar with the recycling logo. This logo is stamped on just about all plastic items. Once you find the logo, look for the resin code sitting in the middle of the logo. If it has the number 1,2,3,5 or 7 in the logo, it can go into recycling. If it has the resin code 4 or 6, it must be thrown away. If there is a recycling logo on the plastic item with no number in the logo, it must be thrown away. One plastic item that will soon be discontinued from our recycling program is plastic shopping bags and plastic wrap. Watch for further details as this will take effect in June 2019.
I often see items in our recycling sheds and roll offs that are plastic items but they are not recyclable in Lyon County. Plastic items such as vinyl siding, plastic straps, 5 gallon buckets, plastic toys, plastic hangars, plastic laundry baskets and any other things that have not had something to do with being a food container at some point in time, is not recyclable. These items should be thrown away.
If these non-recyclable items are left in recycling when it goes to Sioux Falls where our recycling is sold, they can call the whole semi load contaminated and reject it. This means a whole semi load of recyclables ends up going into the landfill. An approximate weight of recyclables that could be potentially rejected and sent to the landfill is around 20 tons. If you do not want to load up your trash cart with larger items, you can take them yourself to the landfill. The minimum cost is $7 for up to the first 240 pounds of trash. The landfill is open Monday-Friday from 6 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m.-noon and is located one mile south of Camden State Park at 2025 200th Avenue, Lynd, Minnesota.
As with anything we purchase, we each have to be responsible for the items disposal when we are finished with it. It is each our own responsibility to properly dispose of things we are no longer using whether it is a pop can or a dishwasher. We should not be placing items into the recycling cart or into the recycling shed or roll off that are not recyclable. This defeats the purpose of recycling in the first place.
Only after we are powered with knowledge about what is accepted into our recycling sheds and carts and what is not, will we be able to take the necessary steps to change how we think about our environment today and preparing for tomorrow.
For questions on recycling, please call the Lyon County Environmental Department at (507) 532-1307. The office hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.