Recycling Discussion in Minot: How we got here

Published: May. 14, 2018 at 5:24 PM CDT
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This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Earth Recycling fire.

Minot residents will remember the blaze that took out one of the area's main recycling facilities.

That fire, along with the city's move to automated trash pickup, have prompted discussion of if and when the city will develop a recycling program.

This week we're going to look into why Minot has limited options for recycling, and the road ahead.

Some residents say it's time for a city wide recycling program, but others are more hesitant.

Let's take a look at how we got to this point.

"Can we do better, and if so how?" said Tim Bauman.

The Minot area has few options for personal recycling, and the ones that do exist cannot support the entire community.

Last May, this fire left the Earth Recycling plant just off of the Highway 83 bypass in ruins. In the months after the fire, the plant's owners entered a civil dispute with the city of Minot over zoning ordinances for the land.

The owners said they should have been grandfathered into the law when they opened the facility, but the city argued they needed to comply with an updated ordinance.

A judge tossed out the case days before it was supposed to go to trial, meaning one of the area's main recycling facilities is currently at a standstill.

But Earth Recycling isn't the only facility in the area.

"We opened the recycling center in '94 with the purpose of providing jobs to people with disabilities," said Kalix President and CEO Borgi Beeler.

Kalix is one of the only places Minot residents can go to get rid of recyclables.

"We take cardboard, newspapers, magazines, mixed office paper. We also take tin cans, aluminum cans, and plastic," Beeler said.

Kalix accepts two of the seven types of plastics.

"We only take number one beverage bottles, and number two jugs with necks," Beeler said

Minot city leaders have discussed at-length the need for recycling.

"All seven of the councilmen at that time said, you know what, the City of Minot is a little behind the times as far as recycling goes," said Minot Public Works Assistant Director Jason Sorenson.

Sorenson is at the forefront of many of the city's waste management plans, and says recycling could help solve other issues around town. The landfill is expected to be full in the next eight years, but much of what's in there could be recycled.

"Generally speaking, 50 percent of that material is recyclable. There's a lot of stuff that's going to the landfill that doesn't really need, too," Sorenson said.

Minot State Biology Professor Heidi Super says the community needs opportunities to learn about the benefits of recycling.

"You grew up this way, you never even thought of an aluminum can as something that doesn't go in the garbage," Super said.

With the conversation started, citizens and city leaders are working on ways to revolutionize waste management in the Magic City.

Stay tuned for part two Tuesday, where we explore how citizens are pushing the recycling conversation.