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Bismarck prolongs life of landfill, repurposes thousands of tons of recycling

Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 7:41 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - One man’s trash might be another man’s treasure. That’s certainly true at Bismarck’s recycling center.

The Re-Use Room at the Bismarck Landfill is full of paint, stains, cleaners, and other items that still have life left in them.

“We actually have a lot of snowbirds that come in and they will actually take all of their items and they will just bring them in before they go down south. So, we get a lot of household items too,” said Bismarck Recycling Specialist Alesha Dockter.

The room gives residents the chance to drop off items they’re finished with or pick things up for their next project. Some residents in Bismarck say they like to get the most out of products before throwing them away.

“We try to use glass instead of plastic as much as possible for health reasons as well as reasons related to the planet,” said David Witham, Bismarck.

Practices to reduce waste takes a lot of manpower...

“There’s a lot of time we sit there shaking or lifting cans where we can see if we can reuse it or put it somewhere on a shelf,” said Dockter.

...but it’s paying off.

Recycling Specialist Alesha Dockter says 5,515,300 pounds (2757.7 tons) of single sort recycling, 6,672,000 pounds (3,336 tons) of compost, 8,994,000 pounds (4,497 tons) of trees, 136,000 pounds (68 tons) of tires, 1,006,000 pounds (503 tons) of metal, 11,303 gallons of oil, and 182,904 pounds (91.45 tons) of electronics were recycled in Bismarck in 2021.

“As we continue to redirect, reuse, recycle these items we are saving money from not having to build more additional cells out here at the landfill. This last cell we just built was $7.7 million, so again, the more that we cannot put in there, the longer the landfill is going to stay here. So, it is just going to be better for everybody, not only for the environment, but also for taxpayers,” said Dockter.

But where do the recycled items go?

“We actually have a contractor that comes out and they will make the tires into tire shreds. And they can sell them out to playgrounds. Instead of wood chips, some people like to use the recycled tires,” said Dockter.

Other items are similarly repurposed. Latex paint is taken by an environmental service company remixed and resold for a discount, Bismarck’s disposal crew makes compost from yard waste, and sometimes artists will work with the landfill to use other recycled materials.

As new technology and new waste is created each year, recycling and upcycling practices continue to evolve.

Visit the City of Bismarck’s website for more information on recycling and the Re-Use Room.

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