WILLMAR — Kandiyohi County residents who have been hoarding their recyclables since the March shutdown of the county's multi-sort recycling program will soon be getting some relief.

From 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Kandiyohi County Recycling Center in Willmar, county staff and West Central Sanitation will be holding the first of four recycling drop-off events.

"We've come up with some sort of way to take the pressure off people," said Gary Geer, county environmental services director, who updated the Kandiyohi County Board at Tuesday's board meeting.

The three remaining events will be held at the same time and place on June 20, July 11 and July 25.

"It is a good thing that has come together," Geer said.

Residents will be able to drive up to the center where county staff will unload the recycling, allowing residents to stay inside their vehicles. This will help with social distancing to help reduce any risk of spreading COVID-19.

The recyclables do not have to be sorted. There was a request that if a household has a lot of recyclables to maybe not bring it all to the first event but spread it out over a few of them.

Law enforcement will be assisting with traffic flow, which will only be allowed to travel in one direction. The county is asking for people's patience during the events.

"We are anticipating a long line," Geer said.

While the events are happening in Willmar, they are open to all county residents.

"This is not just a Willmar operation," said County Commissioner Rollie Nissen.

Geer also requested board approval to begin selling the county's recycling equipment, which it will no longer need. The board unanimously gave its consent.

The county will be advertising for sale items such as trailers and its recycling sorting machinery.

"They are uniquely fit to how we did business, so they might be a hard sell," Geer said.

The recycling drop-off sheds that were located across the county are already on eBay.

The multi-sort recycling program run by Kandiyohi County was shut down in late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The county had used volunteers in the county's community service program to do the recycling pickup and hired workers from West Central Industries to sort the material. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered those programs, the county was left with no employees to do the work and no way for residents to drop off recycling.

Even prior to the shutdown, the County Board and the Environmental Services Department had discussed contracting with a waste and recycling hauler for a single-sort system. The pandemic shutdown accelerated those plans and the contract with West Central Sanitation was approved in May.

West Central Sanitation will provide each residence with a 95-gallon container for its recyclables. In a single-sort system, all product can be placed in the same container.

Those living in cities will have curbside recycling pickup every other week, while those living in unincorporated areas will be provided monthly curbside pickup.

The company will also collect single-sort recyclables at special events upon request. The hope is to have the new recycling program up and running by Aug. 1, but no later than Sept. 1.