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Published January 16, 2013, 12:11 PM

Minnesota looks to regain recycling lead

Breckenridge, MN (WDAY TV) - Minnesota once was the leader in recycling. Now, it is struggling to keep up with surrounding states.

By: Andrea Hubbell, WDAY

Breckenridge, MN (WDAY TV) - Minnesota once was the leader in recycling. Now, it is struggling to keep up with surrounding states.

Doyle Gylten - Recycles: "Once a week we come over and we've got a lot of cardboard at work."

Doyle Gylten is just one small piece to an even smaller number.

Doyle Gylten: "Years ago we never did it, but now we do it all the time."

For years, Minnesota's recycling rate sits at about 41%, and it hasn't moved. Now law makers are pushing to change that.

Bruce Poppel – Environmental Officer: "People are still recycling, and I think we are gaining more people to recycle everyday, it's just that the products that are coming are lighter weight and how our society is, it's just changing."

Bruce Poppel has seen a lot of garbage come and go, but even the amount seen in this small recycling center is shrinking.

Bruce Poppel: "We did over 800 tons through this facility."

Commercial waste accounts for half of the recycling in Wilkin County. Statewide, those numbers are going up. Soon legislation could implement a container deposit law. It would impose an upfront fee to certain bottles, but refund customers after they returned it.

Bruce Poppel:"It's amazing as individuals, when we have a value to something , we usually make a point of recycling. I think that's why aluminum can has always been such a popular recycling for many years, because there is value to it."

Another law is being tossed around, called product stewardship. Essentially, manufacturers would be fully responsible for the environmental impact of their product. Either way, Minnesota hopes to start somewhere.

Bruce Poppel: "It's kind of a mindset, I think to get people going and once you get going, it's relatively easy."

In 2011, Clay County collected over 19 tons of recycled material with almost a 48% recycling rate. Cass County gathered about 7,800 tons, amounting to a 37.9% rate. Wilkin County stacked up just over a ton of waste, with a 37.8% recycling rate.

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