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Recycling changes ready to roll out

In about a week, Mower County is primed to boost recycling by accepting plastics Nos. 1-7 and by increasing curbside collections from twice a month to weekly on the first four weeks of the month.

The Mower County board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a new contract with Cedar Valley Services to collect curbside and business recycling. It’s the last step as the county gets ready to launch into its updated recycling program on Sept. 1.

“We think we can get more out of the waste stream,” Cedar Valley’s Executive Director Rich Pavek said. “So we think it’s going to be a good thing.”

Last year, the county board voted against switching to single-sort recycling and instead opted to make improvements with the goal of collecting more recyclables through the county-run, sorted recycling program.

The board has since voted to add plastics Nos. 3-7 to the Nos. 1 and 2 currently accepted at the Mower County Recycling Center and to increase curbside recycling pickup from every other week to the first four weeks of each month.

“We’re just hoping the weekly residential curbside pickup will do what’s it’s purpose is, [which] is to increase recycling and make it very convenient,” Pavek said. “People won’t miss any days, they’ll know what day because every week it’s going to be picked up.”

Cedar Valley’s Management Services Director Taggert Medgaarden said they’ve tried to make the least amount of changes possible for pickup days.

Cedar Valley is adding another recycling truck, but Medgaarden said it will largely be business as usual once they get going.

Rural residents will still have to bring their recycling to the recycling center, but county officials say that its getting easier too. The county is also currently updating the Mower County Recycling Center, 1111 Eighth Ave. NE, for indoor unloading of recyclables and to add outdoor drop boxes where the general public can drop recyclables off anytime.

Commissioners see the drop boxes as a key addition for the public because they’ll be available 24/7, 365 days a year. The public will no longer bring recycling into the building, which Solid Waste Coordinator Jeff Weaver called a big convenience for the public.

For this year, the board and county staff was able to keep costs at a relatively low price. Earlier this month, the board approved an updated point system that balances and determines how much certain types of properties pay for solid waste programs based on estimated usage.

If the cost holds true at about $5 a point, rural residents with five points will pay about $25 year for solid waste services, where they must drop off recycling at the Mower County Recycling center or rural drop boxes. City, or curbside, residents assigned eight points will get curbside recycling pickup on the first four weeks of each month for $40 a year.

However, County Coordinator Craig Oscarson told the board and Cedar Valley Services Tuesday that the costs could increase in future years to meet the new level of service.

See more details and schedules at http://www.co.mower.mn.us/public-works-recycling-hhw.html.

Quick hits on recycling

—County will accept plastics labeled Nos. 1-7 on the bottom.

—Curbside recycling will increase from twice a month to weekly on the first four weeks of the month

—All caps must be removed

—Rinse food and residue from containers

The following items are not acceptable

—Plastic cups

—Plastic silverware

—Shrink wrap

—Plastic bags

—Styrofoam

—Packing peanuts

—Non-container plastics, like toys, laundry baskets and car parts.