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City looks at recycling

When G & G Recycling closed its doors earlier this year it created a void in Dickinson's recycling market that needed to be filled, city Administrator Shawn Kessel said.

Since then, the city and private organizations have been looking into what can be done to make up for the loss, including a city recycling program.

"We didn't want recycling in Dickinson to go away," said Kris Fehr, executive director of the Best Friends Mentoring Program. "So we picked up the slack as far as picking up the cans that G & G was picking up from most of the bars."

In addition, Continental Metal Products, which recycles metal, has picked up parts of Best Friend's recycling collection route to help share the load.

"We want our community to be beautiful," Fehr said. "We don't want trash and recyclables blowing around and we don't want to take up space in our landfill. The landfill costs money to maintain, plus it's using up land."

But Fehr was quick to point out that it isn't something they can do on their own and they could use city help.

And Kessel said the city, with the help of summer intern Mitch Meier, is looking into a comprehensive recycling program.

"We were kind of pushed a little bit when G & G decided to leave the cardboard recycling program. So we are picking all that cardboard up now, but we're not recycling it to the best of our abilities," Kessel said. "Developing a program that is cost-effective as well as environmentally effective is where we're going to need to be -- find that balance."

Kessel, who is the former city administrator in Wahpeton, which has a recycling program, said a similar program could be set-up in Dickinson.

In Wahpeton, residents are issued an additional refuse container for all recyclable material. Once collected, it is shipped to Minneapolis where it is sorted and recycled. This approach allows all sorts of recyclable material to be included from newspaper and magazines to clear and green glass.

"The thing about recycling is we want to make it as absolutely convenient as possible for the resident," Kessel said, adding there's less participation if you start making residents separate items.

The recycling program would come at a cost, Kessel said, and it is unclear as to how much of a cost the public would support.

In an effort to discover what would be cost effective as well as palatable to citizens, the city will insert a survey into this month's utility bill.

"If we get a really good response and there's a majority of people that are willing to go the extra mile and help out then we can actually end up doing plastic or glass, some of the more difficult things," Meier said.

If there is a strong response to the surveys, Meier said there is a good chance the city will pursue a recycling program. If they see a greater response for certain types of recycling they may start there.

There are unanswered questions, like where would the recyclable materials be sent and how much it would cost.

"I do commend the city for looking at it," Fehr said.