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Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - Olmsted County residents may face a penalty if they get caught placing non-recyclable items in their recycling containers.

 An Olmsted County Board committee is scheduled to review the proposal Tuesday and act on a recommendation to schedule a public hearing.

The request comes from Olmsted County’s licensed solid waste haulers who are seeking “the ability to assess a $20 penalty fee to their customers for poor recycling practices at the curbside.”

According to the information that will be reviewed by the committee:

“The goal of these changes to the Solid Waste Ordinance is to clean up the recycling stream so that more material can be made into new products, not to penalize customers. It is also to make sure the customers that are following recycling requirements do not have to pay for other's poor practices. A warning will be issued before a monetary penalty fee can be imposed along with providing the customer with additional educational information.” 

The committee has also been told:

 “Recycling contamination is a significant problem in the solid waste industry. Haulers are fined for contaminated recycling loads at the material processing facilities, yet they have no control over what customers put in their curbside recycling carts. Local haulers are observing such items as dirty diapers, yard waste, computers, and rechargeable batteries (concern with starting fires in trucks and at transfer stations) in customer's recycling containers. This problem of "dirty recycling" is not unique to Olmsted County. Municipalities and haulers are experiencing inappropriate recycling behaviors on a national level. These problems are partly due to misguided customers who "wish-cycle" and throw items in the recycling cart that are not recyclable, thinking every plastic, paper, glass, cardboard, and a metal item can be recycled into a new product. This behavior causes the following issues in the solid waste system: · Overall less material is recycled, · added costs to the haulers collecting the material,· increased operational costs at the processing facilities, and· forces good recyclables to be landfilled or combusted because they are intermixed with non-recyclable items.”

The proposed public hearing would be held Sept 15th.

If the proposed penalty policy is approved, it would take effect Jan.1st “after a three-month coordinated education campaign with the haulers. “

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