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Kleindl: County recycling should double in next decade

The life of the Kandiyohi County landfill could be extended, and taxpayer money saved, if more waste was recycled instead of buried. The county is encouraging residents, businesses and schools to step up their recycling efforts. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange

WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi employees, residents and businesses are being urged to double their recycling efforts in the next decade.

County wide, less than 35 percent of potentially recyclable materials are currently being taken out of the waste stream.

That leaves a lot of room for improvement, said County Administrator Larry Kleindl, who issued an E-mail plea recently for people to "get on board with recycling."

By the time the decade is over, Kleindl said the county should be recycling 70 percent or more of available recyclable materials.

An avid recycler at home and office, and a bit frustrated that the county's voluntary recycling level has hit a plateau, Kleindl said he hopes those who are recycling "keep up the good work" and those that aren't recycling "act now."

Recycling is good for the environment, helps protect our future and saves individuals money by lowering volume-based garbage collection fees, Kleindl said.

It can save taxpayer money by extending the life of the landfill and delaying expensive expansions of landfill cells, he said.

Recycling also creates jobs, said Wayne Gjerde, recycling marketing development coordinator with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Gjerde said there are at least 100 companies in Minnesota, like Prinsco in Prinsburg and Master Mark Plastics in Paynesville, that purchase recycled plastics to make their products.

RockTenn in St. Paul, which purchases recycled cardboard from Kandiyohi County, uses 100,000 tons of recycled materials a day to make boxes, said Gjerde.

After falling last year, the markets for recycled materials have rebounded and so have the prices.

Minnesota businesses need people to recycle so they can continue to operate, said Gjerde. Recycling can "create jobs right here."

Kandiyohi County's recycling program also provides jobs to individuals with disabilities employed at West Central Industries and community service work for individuals in the sentence to serve program, said Jeff Bredberg, director of environmental services.

Carol Schmiesing, director of the county's household hazardous waste program, said many people are very conscientious about what they put in the landfill and are faithful recyclers.

But some people "just don't care," said Schmiesing.

The county tries to make recycling as convenient as possible through curb-side pickup, the recycling center in Willmar and recycling sheds located throughout the county. Free recycling of televisions and computers is available at the landfill.

The options are well used, with some of the sheds needing to be emptied once a day. Some, however, don't want to bother with separating their waste and throw everything away, said Bredberg, adding that recycling is simply "the right thing to do."

He said many local businesses who recycle make a positive impact to the market and the landfill. If all businesses reported their recycled tonnage to his office it could actually increase the percentage of actual materials recycled.

Educating children about the benefits of recycling is one of the keys way to get families to do it.

Perhaps because of funding cuts, schools are taking fewer field trips to the recycling center than in the past, said Schmiesing, who still goes to schools and community organizations to make presentations and conducts tours to other youth groups.

But the county doesn't have money to implement a publicity campaign or new single stream sorting equipment that could perhaps get the county off of its recycling bubble.

That's why Kleindl hopes his simple, half-page email that he sent to all county employees, partner-agencies and the media, will keep circulating and make a difference.

"I needed to take the lead and send out that message," he said. "Word of mouth is the best say to get it across."

For information about Kandiyohi County's recycling program go to: or call 320-213-3587.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750