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Talking (less) trash: First community discussion about single-sort recycling is in the books

Soon, residents will be able to toss their recyclables just as easily as their trash.

The League of Women Voters hosted an event about recycling on Wednesday, Feb. 27. The focus of the event was to inform Red Wing residents about the change in recycling that will be coming to town. Currently, as most people know, recycling needs to be sorted for curbside collection: plastic with plastic, glass with glass, paper with paper, etc.

Sometime this year, everything can be mixed together in one, large cart.

The city does not have the tools to process single-sort recyclables at the Solid Waste Campus so, according to Jeff Schneider, the deputy director solid waste, the city will send the materials to a different plant within the region for processing.

According to Schneider, residents and businesses will only see a couple of changes from the current system to the single-sort recycling system. The two main differences will be that materials can all be thrown into one bin and recyclables will be collected once every two weeks instead of once a week.

For the city of Red Wing, a lot of work has gone into this change. Steps included:

• Proposing the change to the City Council

• City staff investigating if single-sort is feasible and wise

• Estimating implementation costs

• Pursuing grants to cover some costs

• Ordering needed materials

• Informing Red Wing citizens about how the new program will work and how it will look

Final steps to implement this program are being taken by Public Works. The truck that will collect the recyclables has been ordered and soon all of the carts that residents will put their recyclables into will be ordered and assembled. The truck and the containers, according to Schneider, are the main expenses of one-sort recycling for Red Wing. The city obtained a grant from the Recycling Partnership and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to help cover the cost of preparing for and implementing the new system.

The city will continue to work to educate residents about the new recycling program. There are a couple of important details that Schneider wants to make sure residents know: Single-sort will not be implemented until later this year, the current goal is September, and until then recyclables needs to be sorted as they are now. Once single-sort is in place, it is easiest for Public Works employees if the recycling materials are put into the bin without being contained in bags.