The Otter Tail County Solid Waste Department is in the process of constructing a glass storage facility at the Fergus Falls Transfer Station. The project began this spring and is set to be completed at the end of the year.
The Otter Tail County recycling program collects approximately 750 tons of glass each year. Glass, like other recyclable materials collected in the county, is sent to a recycling company for additional processing before getting made into a new product. Compared to other recyclables glass is very heavy, making transport to a recycling company in the Twin Cities more costly than the revenue generated by the sale of the material. Environmental benefit from recycling glass also diminishes when the environmental impact of transport is considered. The Solid Waste Department first began thinking of a different solution for handling glass several years ago and landed on a solution to use the material in a way that reduces landfilling while also having a local benefit.
“After reviewing national trends and market conditions, it became obvious we were waiting for things to change that weren’t changing. Creating a local solution will give us better control of our operations and provide an environmentally friendly solution,” said Chris McConn, Otter Tail County Solid Waste Director.
The glass storage facility includes a 65×144’ fabric storage building, large enough to contain several years-worth of collected glass at a time. The building, recently approved by the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners, will improve stormwater quality at the facility. Glass from Otter Tail County will be stockpiled at the location and may eventually include glass from other counties in the region.
The Otter Tail County Highway Department will use the recycled material in road construction projects where the glass can be used in the road base. While the use of glass in these projects is not recycling in the sense that the glass can be recycled many times over, the benefit of keeping the material local and using it instead of other resources is termed ‘beneficial reuse’ and is supported by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Starting in early 2022, glass from Otter Tail County recycling program will be brought to the glass storage facility, reducing both the costs and environmental impacts of transportation, and providing a resource for road projects going into the future.
For more information about the Solid Waste Department and Recycling visit www.ottertailcountymn.us/department/solid-waste/.