ROCHESTER, Minn. - Olmsted County residents could soon have to pay a fine for recycling items that don't belong in the recycling bin.
Private haulers in Olmsted County are finding a lot of problems in the curbside recycling carts. Things like computers, keyboards and even diapers are being tossed in recycling bins when clearly, they don't belong there. Solid waste collection workers don't have any control on what people are putting in the recycling bins, but they're being fined at the recycling facility. The Director of Environmental Resources, Tony Hill, said they're now working with the private haulers as a revision to the solid waste management ordinance to deal with this problem.
So that's where a $20 fine for you could come in to play. If you toss something in the recycling bin that does not get recycled, you could be charged with that penalty. Hill explained this started becoming a problem when China put a hold on recycling material and started accepting everything. "They were accepting everything. So people just got used to putting all these different items in their bin and China would accept them," explained Hill. "Now, China is kind of cut off the world recycling market, so people just thought, 'hey, this was acceptable in the past, I could just do it.' But the new markets are requiring cleaner products."
Hill said there would be a 3 month educational period before the ordinance would go into effect to help you improve your curbside recycling. "The other thing we've established is a warning system. So before they can actually go out and fine the first time, you get a warning, like an 'oops' sticker at your curbside cart detailing what the problem is," said Hill. "So you can make corrections before the fine takes place." The county will not be the ones issuing the fines, it will be up to the private haulers to enforce the ordinance. Hill explained this is their way of helping out the haulers and come up with a solution to the problem.
A board will be meeting Tuesday to look at the ordinance proposal, then a public hearing could soon be held.