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Recycling center in jeopardy of closing...

The future of Kenmare’s recycling center hangs in the balance after Kalix announced last week it will no longer accept cardboard and other salvageable materials after Jan. 31.

12/30/19 (Mon)

The future of Kenmare’s recycling center hangs in the balance after Kalix announced last week it will no longer accept cardboard and other salvageable materials after Jan. 31.

Kalix is the recycling center in Minot that employs developmentally disabled individuals. It has been accepting cardboard from the Kenmare center for more than a decade.

“We’re downsizing our recycling effort to confidential only,” said Kalix director of employment services Rod Martinson. “From now on, we will only take office paper with the intent of shredding it and baling it.”

Martinson added that a popular drive-through for consumers will no longer be available, but added if customers call in for the time being, arrangements will be made to take their items.

According to Kalix CEO, Borgi Beeler, commodity prices have affected this decision.

“The decision to downsize operations was  based on a variety of factors, but the primary concern is the drop in commodity prices,” Beeler said in a statement. “It’s very painful to take this step, but we cannot afford to subsidize the program at current prices. We will continue shredding confidential documents, including pick up for confidential documents and other office paper.”

During Thursday morning’s “recycle day” at the Kenmare center, cardboard was coming in, but after January, it may not have a place to go.

However, the building was recently emptied of bales and there is plenty of room to stack new bales for now. On Thursday morning, nine cardboard bales were staged in the building.

So what happens to the fledgling Kenmare center in the future, a program that has gained popularity in recent years?

According to Kenmare City Council member Glen Froseth, it’s uncertain at this time because there won’t be any decisions made at least until the Jan. 13 council meeting, when the fate of the center can be discussed.

Kenmare currently accepts two types of recycling from the community; the general public and the business community.

Two of those businesses, Gartner’s Jack & Jill and Gooseneck Implement, have been major contributors of cardboard to the center.

Late last week, Arlen Gartner was in negotiations with Spartan Nash, his grocery store distributor about picking up the cardboard. He said Spartan Nash is leaving all options open right now.

Froseth said he had a chat with Terry Mertz at Gooseneck Implement and it’s unclear at this time, what the John Deere dealership is going to do.

“Taking it to the landfill is one option,” Mertz said. “Or, we might get our own baler. We have trucks going to Williston every day, we could take it there.”

Mertz contacted the other dealerships and they aren’t sure as they all took their recyclables to Kalix.

The announcement by Kalix comes when Kenmare’s garbage rates are going up and as merchants try to find ways to save money on their trash, their rates will increase significantly if they add their recyclables to the trash.

In addition to cardboard, the local center accepts newspapers, magazines, telephone books, tin cans, aluminum cans and even old egg cartons.

The nearest mills that process recycling materials are in the Twin Cities, Winnipeg and Denver. Taking materials to any of those sites would be cost prohibitive.

However, there are several “middle men” in North Dakota that accept recyclables from smaller municipalities.

Every major city in North Dakota has its own program for residents, but the city of Fargo is the only public entity that accepts recyclables from out of town.

The city of Fargo recently increased its recycling budget by $65,000 because of its expanding program.

At least three private centers in the state take recycling material. They include Earth Recycling in Minot, North Dakota Recycling Services in Williston and Recycle North Dakota in Jamestown

Earth Recycling is rebuilding after a devastating fire destroyed the complex just west of Minot.North Dakota Recycling Services started out of a serious need to keep recyclable material out of the Williston landfill and Recycle North Dakota is a modern facility that is in the former Coca Cola plant in Jamestown.

Kenmare isn’t the only community that is in this predicament at the present time. Numerous other communities have relied on Kalix to take their items and keep them out of the landfills. Communities include Berthold, Bowbells, Max, Velva and Surrey.

Thus, a number of North Dakota communities may have to rethink their recycling plans or perhaps take it to mills themselves.

It may not seem like it, but more people recycle than you would expect.

According to an EPA survey 94 percent of Americans support recycling and 74 percent say it should be a priority. The national average recycling rate is 34.7 percent.

According to Statistics Canada, the average household recycles 246 pounds of materials a year and even though only 27 percent of residential waste goes to recycling, the amount recycled has increased 65 percent since 2000.

In Australia, the numbers are much higher. According to the Government of Australia, 50 percent of the waste generated in the country, goes to recycling.

And finally, in European Union nations, recycling is becoming a major industry.

As an example, jobs related to recycling increased by 45 percent in the last seven years, all EU countries are expected to recycle 50 percent of their waste generated in the next two years and Austria and Germany have the highest recycle rates in Europe at 63 and 62 percent, respectively.

The closest nation to the United States is France, which recycles 35 percent of its generated waste.

Locally, statistics aren’t measured, but approximately two semi loads of baled cardboard have gone to Kalix in a year. That’s at least 18 bales per trip and each bale weighs approximately 1,000 pounds.

The Kenmare Recycling Center will be open three more times until the January meeting of the Kenmare City Council. People can still drop off their materials at least that long and have a conversation with city council members about the fate of the center in 2020... 

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