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TRASH TALK: Understanding what can be recycled and where to bring it

Residents need to understand that just because you think something is recyclable doesn’t mean it is, this is called “wish cycling.” Please read the signs and follow the directions when visiting one of Beltrami County’s Solid Waste facilities or sites. 

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Editor's note: This is the first column from Beltrami County Solid Waste Director Brian Olson, kicking off his monthly installments of "Trash Talk" addressing all things solid waste in the county.

Beltrami County recycling containers continue to be contaminated with 25% of non-recyclable products.

Residents need to understand that just because you think something is recyclable doesn’t mean it is, this is called “wish cycling.” Please read the signs and follow the directions when visiting one of Beltrami County’s Solid Waste facilities or sites. 

If you were able to recycle a material when you lived in a different county, that doesn’t mean we accept the same items in Beltrami County. We only accept material that we on the Solid Waste Advisory Board, Commissioners and Solid Waste Representatives from Beltrami, Polk, Norman, Clearwater, Hubbard and Mahnomen Counties, can sell as a commodity.

Why is this important? Because transportation is one of the biggest costs in the waste industry, besides tipping fees, and the more times we need to sort and transport waste, the more we all pay.

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If you don’t separate your single-sort recyclable materials, it costs us money, we pay a tipping fee for all recyclable material placed in the trash. 

If the material is sent to the material recovery facility, it is processed to try and remove all the containers, minus the fiber products.

Fiber products only get removed if they are placed in a single-sort recycling bin. We don’t pay a tipping fee or processing fee when we send loads of single-sort recycling to the material recovery facility.

Here are some ways you can help by understanding what is recyclable and how to separate your recyclable materials:

  • Single-sort recycling (10 Sites located throughout Beltrami County):
    • Empty containers: Type 1, 2 and 5 plastic containers are accepted. Because of labor shortages, type 5 plastics are not being recycled. The Solid Waste Advisory Board is looking at robots being installed at the material recovery facility located in Fosston because of the labor shortage.
    • Fiber Products: (Paper, box board, cardboard, etc.). Please flatten boxes when using the recycle drop-off sites located at North Dale Oil, the old fairgrounds (behind Target) and the city of Blackduck, to help limit how much air space the box will take up in the container.
    • Glass: Empty food and beverage bottles and jars. No windows, please.
    • Metal: Empty food and beverage cans.
  • Compost and where to bring it:
    • Yard waste: This can be brought to backyard compost facilities or the Beltrami County Landfill.
    • Food Scraps and compostable fiber products: These items are accepted at backyard compost facilities or the Bemidji and Blackduck Transfer Stations.
  • Scrap metal: Any metal that is not a food container can be recycled at a local scrap metal business or the Bemidji and Blackduck Transfer Stations.
  • Special waste and where to recycle:
    • Lithium, lead–acid and rechargeable batteries are accepted at remote drop-off sites, and the Bemidji and Blackduck Transfer Stations.
    • LED and fluorescent light bulbs are accepted at the Bemidji and Blackduck Transfer Stations.
    • Paint is accepted at local paint stores and the Bemidji and Blackduck Transfer Stations.
    • Tires are accepted at the Bemidji and Blackduck Transfer Stations.
    • Electronics (anything with a circuit board) are accepted at the Bemidji and Blackduck Transfer Stations.
    • Appliances are accepted at the Bemidji and Blackduck Transfer Stations.
    • Residential waste engine oil, oil filters, gas and antifreeze must be disposed of through a proper vendor.

For more information, please visit our website, at www.co.beltrami.mn.us/Departments/Solid%20Waste/Solid%20Waste.

Brian Olson is the solid waste administrator and public works safety coordinator for Beltrami County. He can be reached at  brian.olson@co.beltrami.mn.us.

Related Topics: BELTRAMI COUNTY
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