Waste To Become A Bigger Issue (Syd B. - 3 March '20)

Published in the Stevens County Times

On Friday, February 21st the West Central MN Climate Network hosted a community meeting in the Morris Senior Center. The topic of the meeting was “Waste” and we were lucky to have local waste experts Troy Engebretson, Bill Kleindl, and Ron Staples in attendance. They graciously answered questions about how the waste system works in West-Central MN, the difficulties with current recycling markets, and the exciting potential for commercial and residential composting in Stevens County. Over 30 people of all ages and occupations attended the meeting at 8AM that Friday which showcased to me that (1) people want to be involved in waste solutions, (2) people want to solve these issues together as a community, and (3) when you offer coffee, they will come.

One of my biggest takeaways from the meeting was that waste is only going to become a bigger issue for our area. I listened closely when the experts spoke about the challenges they are facing such as rising tipping fees, loss of markets, and stricter regulations. All of these things should be of concern to everyone involved in the waste process (all of us!). I also learned that something we can do to help overcome some of these challenges is to support our neighbors to the East, Pope/Douglas Recycling, with their proposal to the MN Legislature for an 8 County Regional Waste Diversion System. This is an exciting project that would directly affect the challenges of fees, markets, and regulations brought up at the community meeting. I encourage you to read up on the project and then contact MN House & Senate members and let them know why it is important to West Central MN!

To learn more about the Pope/Douglas proposal visit their website popedouglasrecycle.com. To learn more about the West-Central MN Climate Network and the conversations we have coming up, visit westcentralmnclimate.network.

I am deeply grateful for Mr. Engebretson, Mr. Kleindl, and Commissioner Staples for attending the meeting and sharing their expertise with the community. I look forward to continuously supporting their waste goals into the future!

Syd Bauer