PERHAM – Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency, also known as MPCA, recently announced a $250,000 grant to Otter Tail County to support its transition to curbside recycling in the county scale.
The one-sort recycling program would increase recycling by approximately 2,000 tons per year, divert more waste from landfills, and provide a simple recycling system for all residents of Otter Tail County. According to a 2020 MPCA report, Otter Tail County had a recycling rate of 45.2%, one of the highest rates in Greater Minnesota.
“Recycling turns waste into a resource, which is good for our environment and our economy,” said MPCA Commissioner Katrina Kessler. “Otter Tail County’s consistent leadership has been recognized statewide and embraced by residents and businesses like Lund Boats and Lake Region Healthcare. This state-county partnership represents an investment of more than $500,000 in the region’s environment and economy.
While two towns in Otter Tail County – Fergus Falls and Perham – already offer curbside recycling, the rest of the county currently operates a source-separated recycling program in which materials such as paper and metal must be separated into different bins.
Funding from this grant will help the county plan for the transition to single-sort recycling, including expected reviews of county ordinances, meetings with carriers, and public engagement. The grant will also help the county determine the best method of transporting recycling materials to recycling facilities for processing and fund infrastructure upgrades needed for larger quantities of recyclable materials.
The funding was awarded through the MPCA’s Greater Minnesota Recycling and Composting Grants, which helps communities make reuse, recycling and composting programs more efficient and effective. Otter Tail County provided $283,260 in matching funds, for total funding of $533,260.
“Otter Tail County recently completed a solid waste master plan that sets out a 30-year roadmap on the path to eliminating landfill,” said Chris McConn, director of the solid waste department of the Otter Tail County. “One-sort countywide recycling is one of the first steps on that path, and the MPCA grant is helping us get there.”
The grant is the latest in a series of awards Otter Tail County has received from the MPCA. In 2021, Otter Tail County received $190,000 to start an organics collection pilot program for organizations that generate large amounts of organic waste, as well as a home composting program for residents. The previous year, in 2020, the county received $232,000 to expand its regional plastic film recycling program.