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Recycling exists! Doing your part really does make a difference for our environment

Even though Minnesota has long been a leader with curbside recycling, urban myths continue to swirl that discount the value of the process, and even question if it is occurring at all.


That’s why six metro area counties are teaming up with a “Recycling exists!”public education campaign; Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties want residents to know that recycling is, in fact, real — and it works.


“The answer is yes, recycling exists. It’s worth doing and it works;  your recyclables are being recycled. It’s a law in Minnesota that if you’re putting the right stuff in your recycling cart, your hauler must recycle it,” said Andrea McKennan, environmental health supervisor for outreach and engagement for Ramsey County.


In Minnesota, recyclables from individual home carts add up to what can be measured by the ton; it’s estimated that the Twin Cities metro area collects enough recyclables each year to equal the weight of about four large cruise ships.


The “Recycling Exists!” campaign is spelling out the specifics of what happens to recyclables:


-Glass bottles and jars are sorted by color in Saint Paul.

-Clear glass is sent to a facility Shakopee to get turned into bottles for drinks, pickles, salad dressing and more.

-Recycled paper and cardboard are made into new cereal and cracker boxes in Saint Paul

-Cans go to Winona and are made into new products like wire and parts for cars and appliances in the Midwest.

-Plastic milk and laundry detergent jugs are made into durable decking, fencing and landscaping products in Paynesville, and plastic drink bottles and produce containers are made into new plastic bottles in Wisconsin and Ohio.


“On plastic jugs, look for the triangle of arrows with the numbers 1, 2 and 5 on the bottom. Those are the ones that are recyclable here, McKennan explained.


In addition to being diligent about recycling, citizens are asked to give a quick rinse to their cans and bottles before putting them out.  People are also asked to never place their recyclables in plastic bags, which can tangle and snag in the machines and even bring an assembly line to a halt.


Local efforts to recycle and reduce waste save energy, protect resources and create jobs as well. It’s estimated that about 78,000 jobs in the state jobs are dedicated to recycling.


In many families, children share the responsibility of the weekly chore and learn about the value of the process.


“Kids are leading the way and holding parents accountable,” McKennan said. “They pick it up so quickly. They are more accustomed to it than we were when we were growing up.”


For any additional questions about recycling, you can learn more at




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