Our opinion: County should pursue single-sort

Published 11:21 am Monday, July 21, 2014

Mower County is proposing a change in the way we recycle.

County officials could switch to a single-sort recycling system sometime soon, which would allow residents to combine all their recyclables into one bin. This is a great idea for county residents and a great idea for the environment.

Many of us have dealt with the county’s recycling rules at some point. Residents have to separate their recyclables into three containers and have to look for special items they may not be able to recycle. To put it bluntly, it’s a bit of a pain.

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That’s why single-sort recycling will be a boon. It will likely raise the overall amount of recycled trash in Mower County and work even in rural areas. Each resident would receive a 96-gallon recycling cart similar to a roadside garbage bin. If the county approves the change, contractors would pick up recyclables every other week.

Some, like Commissioner Tim Gabrielson, question if the county should offer curbside pickup for residences countywide or only in the city of Austin and some towns. We support countywide pickup. Since all homeowners will pay for recycling, all should receive the same service.

We support this change, and we encourage county commissioners, to thoroughly research the benefits of this plan. Any time you can make a good deed simple to do, you’ll find people willing to do it.

They say the switch will likely cost residents $37 to $52 a year, an increase from the average $16 per year residents already pay. The extra cost, between $20 and $36 more a year, is easily justifiable given the benefits.

We regret that Cedar Valley Services, a great nonprofit that provides work for special needs residents, would lose 15 to 18 jobs if the county switched to single-sort recycling. We would urge the county to look into whether Cedar Valley can recoup those jobs by sorting recyclables for the contractors as part of a single-sort recycling agreement.

In this case, the benefits of single-sort recycling far outweigh the costs for Mower County residents. We hope the county board sees those benefits and approves this change.