Kandiyohi County reduces carbon footprint, increases recycled aluminum revenue with new baler
WILLMAR -- It was only 2 p.m. Monday and the crew at the Kandiyohi County Recycling Center had already pulled the second bale of crushed aluminum cans out of its massive new baler.
WILLMAR –– It was only 2 p.m. Monday and the crew at the Kandiyohi County Recycling Center had already pulled the second bale of crushed aluminum cans out of its massive new baler.
Weighing nearly 800 pounds, each bale was made up about 26,400 crushed aluminum cans that had been brought to the recycling center in Willmar.
During today’s celebration of Earth Day - and extending all this week through Saturday - the county is paying a bonus of 5 cents per pound for aluminum cans in hopes of pumping out many more 800-pound bales of cans that the county will transport and sell to an aluminum recycling plant.
With the county bonus, the price for aluminum cans on Monday was 55 cents a pound.
There was a short line of people waiting in line to deposit their cans and get the pay-out ahead of the big crowds that usually hit the recycling center on the Friday and Saturday of Earth Week.
“Those are pretty big days,” said Jay Baker, who oversees the recycling and household hazardous waste program in Kandiyohi County. “The higher the price, the better it is.”
While the once-a-year bonus helps get people to the recycling center, Baker said the county’s recent purchase and installation of an aluminum can baler means the county receives a premium price for selling bales of cans, which means the price paid to individuals will also be higher and more stable.
In the past, crushed cans were just dumped into semi-trailers. Each load contained about 13,000 pounds of loose cans.
With the tightly packed bales, each semi now hauls 40,000 pounds of cans.
“There are way less trucks going out,” said Baker. “We’re reducing the carbon footprint.”
The county installed the baler in December and spent the last couple months working out the bugs.
Even though the baler cost about $40,000, getting a higher price for the aluminum and reducing transportation costs will result in long-term savings.
“Anything that we can make more money on our products is a plus for the county” said Jeff Bredberg, director of the Kandiyohi County Environmental Services Department.
The recycling center has never operated in the black since its opening in 1990, but Bredberg said recycling is “not only the right thing to do, but it increases the life of the landfill.”
He said diverting garbage from the landfill is a “real value” to taxpayers and another good reason for recycling.
While the focus is on aluminum cans during Earth Week at the recycling center, Baker and Bredberg said they hope it provides inspiration for those who do recycle to recycle more; and for those who don’t yet recycle to begin.