A positive recycling outcome from the pandemic
Mankato Area Zero Waste (MZW) would normally have spent this last year giving presentations and tabling events to promote organics recycling. With COVID restrictions and the mounting concern over the impact of plastics on humans and the environment the group instead found a non-contact, socially distant way to reduce waste by collecting soft plastics for recycling.
Area grocers and some retailers have displayed plastic bag recycling bins at their entrances for a number of years. They sell their bags of plastic to TREX which recycles it into composite lumber for benches, railings and decks.
MZW wanted to take it a step beyond public bins by working with businesses and institutions that deal with pallet wrap and other soft plastics on a regular basis but have no recycling options. TREX supplied collection bins for each location and MZW provided collecting bags and any needed support such as picking up the filled bags. HyVee and Cub allowed bag deliveries at their back doors, then transported and sold them for recycling.
Mankato Area Zero Waste has now completed its first year collecting plastic bags and pallet wrap for recycling into composite lumber. The total figure for collections in Lake Crystal, North Mankato and Mankato is 7,452 pounds or 3.75 tons that were removed from the waste stream that would have otherwise been incinerated or landfilled.
In the process the program has earned each of the three cities a bench from TREX. They are currently in place at Lake Crystal’s Rec Center, Messiah Lutheran Church in North Mankato and at ECHO Food Shelf (photo). Another 3 have been earned and soon will be in installed at outdoor locations, such as, Mankato Clinic, North Mankato’s new Splash Pad and the pond by Lake Crystal high school.
We are particularly pleased with the effort of many businesses and volunteers in these three cities and would like to acknowledge their recycling.
In Lake Crystal there are collection bins at Ace Hardware, Grace Thrift, Benny’s Powersports, and both Lake Crystal schools. In North Mankato Lloyd Lumber, ISD 77 Receiving, Messiah Lutheran Church, Sota Sisters, and United Team Elite are collecting. Mankato’s bins are at Ameristar, Civic Center offices, Fillin’ Station, Vagabond Village, Sticks and Stones, Graif’s, MSU Library, Johnson Outdoor, and Mankato Clinic.
Any business or community group wishing to start a plastics recycling program for TREX can email [email protected] or phone Jane Dow, 507-469-5537 or Betty Winkworth, 507-380-1008. For further information on plastics and the environment visit mankatozerowaste.com.
Volunteers for plastic collection at ECHO, Jerry Joyce, Dan Fandrich and Suzanne Lewis with 10 pounds of the usual 30 pounds they collect each week for recycling.