Like Crosslake, the Nisswa City Council is researching how to keep recycling as an easy option for its residents.

The Crow Wing County Board was to consider two options Tuesday, June 23, to reduce the county’s drop-off recycling sites to two in 2021 - the Crow Wing County Landfill and the Ideal Township Transfer Station.

Currently, Nisswa and Crow Wing Township still have drop sites for recycling. Increasing costs have led to a reduction from 12 sites formerly offered in the county.

Crosslake lost its drop site (Crosslake Roll-Off) and will consider an ordinance requiring trash haulers who operate in the city to buy a city license and to offer curbside recycling, which Pequot Lakes does.

The Nisswa City Council heard from Gary Griffin, Crow Wing County Land Services director, at its Wednesday, June 17, meeting about recycling options. Griffin said the county recycles 1,500 tons of material per year at a cost of $200 a ton. It costs four times as much to recycle as it does to throw it on Mount Crow Wing, Griffin said, referring to the landfill.

The reason is markets to get rid of materials are constrained with China not taking it anymore. For example, cardboard once sold for $120 per ton and is now selling at $25-$35 a ton.

“Instead of making money, it’s costing so much more to get rid of it,” Griffin said.

He outline the five options his department considered, including the two that county commissioners preferred and were to consider Tuesday:

  • Reduce to two drop sites - the landfill and Ideal Township Transfer Station. Both sites are monitored to reduce contamination and overage charges. The county would have $800,000 in fund balance in 2030.

  • Reduce to the two drop sites and offer a 50% match for any other city/township that wishes to have a site with the understanding they must monitor the site. If Nisswa and Crow Wing Township agreed to this, the county would have $90,000 in remaining funds in 2030.

The second option would cost Nisswa about $50,000 per year.

Griffin said the county wants to partner with cities and townships.

“We really want to have a robust program in the county,” he said, reiterating the city would be responsible to maintain and monitor the recycling site.

He said he’s heard Nisswa has one of the best recycling drop-off locations in the county, while other sites have incurred extra costs with contamination when people dump garbage there.

Answering a question from Nisswa Public Works Director Tom Blomer, Griffin said the city wouldn’t be able to choose its own hauler under the second option. Instead, haulers would have the option to bid on a countywide contract for drop-off recycling locations.

“That darkens the picture for me a lot,” Blomer said, noting the city’s current recycling hauler (Eric Loge, president of Waste Partners in Pine River) has done a ton of work at his own expense to keep the city’s recycling site as one of best in the county, providing security cameras and sending workers out almost daily to clean up the site.

The city’s Public Works Committee will talk about this topic in July.

Mayor Fred Heidmann was absent from the June 17 meeting, held in person at city hall and livestreamed via YouTube.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.