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Disposing of small appliances

I like the example of a coffee pot or even other popular small appliances: blenders and mixers when giving examples of items residents ask about how to dispose of. Generally speaking, if any given consumer purchases a mid-range priced small appliance, a resident can expect to purchase anywhere from 5-6 of these small appliances throughout their lifetime. If a resident chooses to purchase a higher-priced, well-made appliance, a resident can cut that number in half. In the end, most residents (consumers) can also save money over a lifetime of purchasing products.

So, what does this have to do with recycling? Small appliances which I include vacuum cleaners, box or room fans, and floor scrubbers in that category are not recyclable. Small appliances are probably one of the hardest things to dispose of anywhere you go in the United States if you are looking for alternative disposal (non-landfill disposal). The reason why they are not recyclable is that they are made up of mixed materials. So what do mixed materials mean?

Small appliances, chip cans, powdered baby formula cans, and foil juice pouches are just a few good examples of products that are made up of more than one type of material. Going back to the example of a coffee maker, it has a glass coffee pot and the stand is made up of plastic while the parts inside of the stand are metal and aluminum. While technically speaking, these items could be recycled, there isn’t any place that accepts recycling that can accept mixed materials products because they do not have the manpower to take the product apart to separate out the different kinds of materials. This is why they are considered trash.

Sustainable consumption was first introduced at the same time that recycling was introduced in the 1970s. We have not heard much about it until now. There is a growing trend to reuse items, rent items that we would rarely use and repair items whether we repair those items ourselves, or have someone else repair them. We need to move away from the idea that we purchase and throw away to a more circular pattern where we purchase and find other uses for items. It brings an additional two “R”s into the mix of reduce, reuse, and recycle to also include rent and repair.

Many of us are faced with our past purchasing power when we have to move (we have a lot of stuff to move or to discard). We often speak with many residents in our area that are cleaning out and making decisions for all of the things left behind. The easiest way to reuse items is to give them away. If a product is still good or unopened, for example, lawn and garden chemicals or cleaning supplies, try to find friends, family or neighbors who could use these items. We have a complete list of items that you can bring either to the Household Hazardous Waste facility in Marshall or to the landfill. We encourage all residents to look for alternative uses for everything before considering the landfill.

Recycling has its challenges and for every time that a resident places items into recycling that does not belong, it makes recycling more expensive and with fewer rewards for those companies that are taking the recyclables. The easiest way to do recycling right is to only place items into recycling carts or the community recycling rolloffs that are on our official recycling list. Anything else that is not on the list is not recyclable in this program and is considered trash or residents should find an alternative way to recycle, reuse, or reduce their use of that particular item.

We are very lucky that in our area we have several outlets for reuse such as the ReStore, thrift stores, Goodwill, Alter Metal, online garage sales, and Lyon Counties alternative recycling programs for shredded paper, electronics, Styrofoam, mattresses, household cleaners, chemicals, and car seats. The county alternative program only accepts items if they are brought to us. Dumping them or leaving them outside of recycling carts or recycling rolloffs will only guarantee that they will be thrown away. Please do not do this. Do not leave items outside of cardboard recycling bins or outside of the recycling rolloffs. This is considered dumping and it is illegal! If the community recycling drop sites are full or if it is an extremely windy day, please come back another day.

If you need a copy of the recycling guide or disposal guide, please contact us at the Environmental Office at (507) 532-8210 or go to the Lyon County Website at www.lyonco.org for the list as well as the calendar for curbside recycling. For questions for the landfill, please call (507) 865-4615.

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