Recycling in Dickinson will help landfills control space, cost
Yard waste, used motor oil and soda cans are just a few of the materials on Dickinson's long list of acceptable recyclables allowed at two sites in the city.
Aaron Praus, Dickinson's sanitation manager, said he doesn't know the exact number of recyclers in the city since it isn't a mandatory program.
But as more outsiders move into the area, there has been a renewed interest in the city's recycling program.
"We know there are people who are strong with recycling and some are not," he said. "But I would say that with more people coming in from out of state, we've seen an increase in people who want us to expand our efforts to get more useable products out of the waste stream."
Steve Tillotson, assistant director and solid waste program manager for the North Dakota Department of Health's Division of waste management, said major solid waste facilities in North Dakota, including Dickinson, are active in recycling metals, yard waste, wood, concrete and asphalt, used oil and a variety of other materials.
"We think the number of people who call themselves 'recyclers' has gone up," Tillotson said. "Everyone participates in recycling in some aspect of their everyday life, at home and at work."
There are 16 communities in the state, including Bowman, that offer curbside pick-up recycling programs, according to the health department. Another 18 communities, including Beach, Bowman and Dickinson, also offer drop-off recycling programs.
Nationally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's most recent data from 2010 indicates that 54 percent of waste is thrown in landfills, 34 percent is recycled and 11 percent is combusted for energy.
In Dickinson, the recycling programs brought in about 44 tons of loose cardboard in 2011 compared to 241 tons in 2012.
The city also collected 160 tons of tires for recycling in 2010, compared to 257 tons in 2011 and 123 tons in 2012.
By recycling, the EPA said people can reduce the waste in landfills, conserve natural resources, reduce pollution and save energy.
Kim Bartels, electronics stewardship and recycling coordinator at EPA Region 8 in Denver that includes North Dakota, said much of the nation's resource conservation efforts have historically focused on decisions to reuse or recycle materials that would otherwise be disposed of as waste.
"While these remain important resource conservation practices, they only represent a fraction of all the opportunities available to conserve resources," she said. "Through a Sustainable Materials Management approach, EPA is helping change the way our society protects the environment and conserves resources for future generations.
"Sustainable Materials Management is a systemic approach that seeks to reduce materials use and their associated environmental impacts over their entire life cycle, starting with extraction of natural resources and product design, and ending with decisions on recycling or final disposal. This approach changes how we think about environmental protection and recognizes the impacts of the vast amount of materials we consume."
As consumption increases faster than space to pitch the trash, Praus said the costs are passed on to residents in order to help pay to expand the landfill.
The costs also pay for shipping recyclables, like tires, to facilities in South Dakota and Minnesota to be turned into useable product, since North Dakota does not have such centers, Praus said.
Bartels said the cost of not reducing and reusing is why there is a renewed focus in many places to prevent trash build up.
"The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place," she said. "Making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy: raw materials must be extracted from the earth, and the product must be fabricated and then transported to wherever it will be sold. As a result, reduction and reuse are the most effective ways you can save natural resources, protect the environment, and save money."