Herald JournalHerald Journal, Jan. 17, 2005

County may try to force Winsted into recycling program

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

A proposed county-wide recycling program brought together the Winsted City Council and members of the McLeod County Solid Waste Committee for a special meeting Wednesday morning.

While there has been some tension between the two groups in the past, Wednesday’s meeting went relatively smoothly, but still left several questions sitting out there, including the amount of recyclable materials collected, and where they should go.

Solid Waste Director Ed Homan said that he wants to work with each municipality within McLeod County, and has met with almost every city in the county about the proposed program.

“This is not a Hutch program, not a Glencoe program,” Homan said. “We should be working for the county as a whole.”

Winsted currently has a contract for its recycling with Waste Management that does not expire until 2007.

“Although your contract does not expire till (sic) a later date, the City of Winsted will eventually participate in the proposed county-wide recycling program,” said Solid Waste Coordinator Sarah Young in a letter to Winsted City Administrator Brent Mareck.

According to information presented by Homan, the amount of “tonnage” recycled by Winsted residents has been constantly decreasing since 1999.

In 1999, there were 187 tons recycled, and that number has decreased more than 60 percent to just more than 71 tons in 2003. That number reflects the materials that were picked up at the curb, not what was received by the county facility.

Homan’s graph also pointed out that when Waste Management purchased Kubasch Sanitation in 2001, there was a 26 percent decrease in recycling. Homan estimated that by March of this year, 2004 numbers will be ready.

One concern that Winsted Mayor Don Guggemos had was that the county-proposed program would require residents to return to a seven-sort system, rather than the current two-sort system that is currently in place with Waste Management.

“We’re going the wrong way,” Guggemos said.

Homan explained that by doing a two-sort process, there is more contamination than with a seven-sort program.

“The product is much cleaner, and you get a higher value for the material,” Homan said.

Where do the materials go?

The City of Silver Lake also has a contract with Waste Management, and was told that the company was delivering all of the materials picked up in Silver Lake to the county facility, “when they in fact were not,” Homan said.

Guggemos noted that Winsted’s contract with Waste Management does not specifically state where the materials that are picked up are to be transported.

“If Waste Management isn’t taking this stuff to you (county facility), than where is it going?” asked Council Member Bonnie Quast.

“It goes from here to Norwood to a transfer station off (Highway) 212, and then to St. Paul,” said County Commissioner Grant Knutson. Waste Management gains additional revenue because it owns those facilities.

“There is a profit to be had in a facility,” Knutson said.

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