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The Golden Rules of recycling

We recently had a display at the Marshall Farmers Market where we asked willing residents to respond to a recycling survey. Recycling has Golden Rules. These are the basic rules to follow when recycling anything. When residents follow these simple rules, recycling works better for everyone. Recycled items are cleaner, which means less smell and less sticky recycling carts. The hauler is happier because they are getting better items in the carts which means they have less work and problems having to tag carts, which means they had to refuse to take your cart. The companies that purchase our recycled items are happier because they are eager to take our quality recyclables. We have a long way to go Lyon County in making recycling work for everyone!

The first Golden Rule is that most items that you can place into your recycling cart come from being a food container and paper items. Clothes, shoes, PVC pipes, Styrofoam and so forth are not food containers and should never go into recycling. Just because an item has the recycling logo on it doesn’t mean it is accepted into your community recycling program. Just because an item is plastic, doesn’t mean it is accepted into your community recycling program. We can often recycle some of these items but they need to go to other places instead of your recycling cart. Give us a call, we are really good at helping people to find a way of alternative recycling methods.

The second Golden Rule is do not bag your recycling. The reason why we do not bag our recycling is because the bags get caught into the equipment at the recycling recovery facility. This includes plastic shopping bags and plastic wrap. These items are also nearly impossible for the recovery facilities to find a market to sell these items to. Plastic shopping bags and plastic wrap should be returned to the retailers.

The third Golden Rule is to make sure that you are not crushing any of your recycling. There is no need to crush pop cans or that milk jug. The only thing that need to be flattened is cardboard. Cereal boxes or macaroni boxes can remain as is as well. The reason why we no longer need to do this is because the recycling recovery facilities use computers to move recycled items across the conveyor and then these systems separate our recycling like how we had to do in days gone by. If the cans or other items are crushed, the electronic eye has a hard time differentiating between items and things end up in the wrong pile at the materials recovery facilities.

The fourth Golden Rule is to make sure that items are fairly clean and dry. Pop cans just need an extra shake at the sink to make sure they are empty. Milk jugs can do with a quick rinse. Bean cans and peanut butter jars need a quick scrape and a quick rinse. This one step will help you keep down odors and make things move much better down the line from your home to the end user. We can keep caps on our plastics. We can keep pop tabs on. We can keep the labels on everything. As long as the food containers are free of food or liquids, we will be doing great.

There are a few items that can be recycled that residents either were not sure or thought they could not recycled. These items can be recycled and include any wax paperboard materials such as beer and pop boxes (YES!), frozen food boxes (YES!), frozen pizza boxes (YES!) and we can also include take-out pizza boxes-if the bottom is dirty, rip that part off and recycle the top of the box. Things part of the survey that CAN NOT go into recycling also include paper towels (whether they are used or not), plastic knives, forks and spoons (they fall through the equipment), plastic laundry baskets (recycling not available in Lyon County) and broken glass dishes.

Recycling, once it has become a part of your system in the kitchen, will only take a moment or two of your time. If you should have questions about recycling, please feel free to call me at 507-532-1307. The Lyon County Environmental Department (recycling, household hazardous waste and parks) hours are Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The landfill hours are Monday-Friday 6 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m.-noon. The phone number for the landfill is 507-865-4615 and is located south of Lynd.

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