Anoka County May 16 recognized the top and most improved recycling communities in the county.
The Most Prolific Municipal Recycling Program award went to the city of Andover. Including curbside pick-up, drop-off centers and recycling days, Andover recycled 260.83 pounds per person in 2011, according to Carolyn Smith of the Anoka County Integrated Waste Management Department. The average for all Anoka County communities was 194.6 pounds per person.
The Most Improved Recycling Program award went to the city of St. Francis. It increased its collection from 138.23 pounds per person in 2010 to 156.8 pounds per person in 2011.
Despite the advent of iPads, eBook readers and other electronic devices, paper continues to be the most recycled material, Smith said. There was about 32,600 tons of material recycled in Anoka County last year. Over 19,000 tons of that was paper, which buried the nearest material competitors. Andover’s Recycling Coordinator Cindy DeRuyter said even with computers, a lot of documents still get printed.
Appliances, textiles and vehicle batteries accounted for about 5,400 tons while glass accounted for almost 5,200 tons of all recycled material in the county in 2011.
Tom Boshart of Andover said recycling is second nature to his family. They easily fill up multiple boxes with paper every week. They make a point of recycling food packaging cardboard. They pull the tabs off their pop cans and bring them to McDonalds, which the restaurant then recycles and uses the proceeds for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. The pop cans get crushed and dropped off at a recycling center each year. They change their own oil and recycle it and the filters.
Boshart is a member of the Andover Lions Club, which volunteers for the Andover recycling day events. Club members haul furniture, bikes and whatever else people bring, and they provide food for the volunteers staffing the event. The Lions club also participates in recycling eyeglasses, hearing aids and ink cartridges. The eyeglasses go to impoverished people across the world.
Decline of recycled material weight
Smith acknowledged that haulers allowing customers to throw all recyclable material into one container rather than multiple containers has helped make recycling easier. Nevertheless, recycling numbers had been decreasing from 209.04 pounds per person in Anoka County in 2007 to 191.66 pounds per person in 2010. The number increased to 194.6 pounds per person in 2011.
Smith said the general decline in weight of material recycled is likely due to multiple reasons. The economic recession is probably causing people to hold onto their old appliances rather than buy the newest option on the market and throwing out the old equipment. Besides eliminating a heavy appliance, less cardboard that holds the new appliances is being recycled.
Manufacturers have been working hard on making their packages lighter, Smith said. For example, some new water bottles use less plastic to be more eco-friendly. Aluminum cans are lighter than they used to be.
Although paper is still the dominant force in the recycling industry, people will likely be recycling less paper than before because some will choose to read newspapers or magazines online and will read books on their eBook readers.
In every community, curbside pick-up is the major collection method for recycled material.
Although DeRuyter is happy that Andover has been the most prolific recycling community in the county since 2007, she was quick to credit the other communities and Anoka County for working together to improve recycling numbers for all communities. The recycling coordinators for the different communities and county recycling officials meet once a month to share ideas. There are no company secrets and the recycling awards are not about competition in DeRuyter’s mind. The goal is for everyone to do better.
Andover City Councilmember Julie Trude believes kids have made a big difference in making their parents aware of the importance of recycling.
“A lot of this starts with the children coming home to parents and finding ways we can change our lifestyle,” Trude said.
This happened in her own home and she said she loves single-sort recycling.
2011 municipal recycling stats
The following is the amount of recycled material each Anoka County community accounted for in 2011. The communities were ranked based on pounds per person collected by haulers for curbside recycling, and for material collected by drop-off centers and recycling days.
1. Andover: 260.83
2. Hilltop: 239.56
3. Coon Rapids: 238.48
4. Columbus: 218.65
5. Ramsey: 214.59
6. Bethel: 213.86
7. Ham Lake: 198.43
8. Lexington: 193.58
9. Lino Lakes: 184.89
10. Spring Lake Park: 180.24
11. Circle Pines: 180.03
12. Nowthen: 178.46
13. Centerville: 173.94
14. Oak Grove: 173.44
15. Blaine: 164.06
16. East Bethel: 158.32
17. Fridley: 157.19
18. St. Francis: 156.82
19. Anoka: 155.12
20. Linwood: 119.89
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]