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Crow Wing County recycling figures remain stable

Recycling efforts at the Crow Wing County Landfill remain at a fairly consistent level, according to Solid Waste Manager Doug Morris, who hopes the recycling market stays strong in the future.

Morris, who’s been at his job since 1996, said the demand for recycled objects changes from year to year, but currently there is still a market to get rid of the items — rather than have to place them in the landfill. His comments came on Earth Day, the 44th annual call to action to protect the environment.

Crow Wing County’s landfill took in 38,286 tons of waste in 2013 compared to 36,563 tons in 2012; at the same time 33,212 tons of waste were recycled in 2013 compared to 32,272 tons in 2012. The number of people bringing household hazardous waste to the landfill in 2013 was 1,737 compared to 1,830 in 2012. The average amount of household hazardous waste brought to the landfill was 61 pounds per household in 2013 compared to 65 tons in 2013.

The county has exceeded its 35 percent goal for percentage of waste that’s recycled since 1996. Crow Wing County saw a 45 percent recycling rate in both 2012 and 2013.

Used oil recycling, a project that began for the general public in 2007, has seen about 377,000 gallons of used oil properly disposed of since the start of that program. Used oil is collected at 11 sites in Crow Wing County, Morris said. He said 28,324 gallons of used oil were collected in 2013 compared to 36,576 gallons in 2012.

The electronics recycling figure, Morris said, remains high because of computer and television technology updates. There were 5,930 electronic items recycled in 2013 and 5,836 in 2012.

Crow Wing County will also dispose of clean and dry mattresses, sending them to Goodwill of Duluth for deconstruction. There were 3,275 mattresses sent to Duluth in 2013 and 3,138 sent there in 2012.

For most people in Baxter and Brainerd, curbside recycling with no separation of items necessary is a strong incentive to take part in recycling efforts, Morris said.

“The big thing about curbside recycling is the convenience,” he said. “They come right to the door.”

The down side is that it’s only practical in areas with a higher concentration of population. That’s why 16 recycling centers are available in the outer regions of the county.

The late Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin is credited with starting the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. According to a National Geographic article published this week Nelson patterned it after the anti-Vietnam War teach-ins of the late 1960s.

“By the end of 1970, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had been established and efforts to improve air and water quality were gaining political traction,” National Geographic’s John Roach wrote.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at 855-5860 or Follow on Twitter at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860