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Peek At Northlanders’ Trash Reveals A Troubling Surprise

Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

I guess I know what WLSSD’s new ad campaign will be about.

Duluth-area residents and visitors are tossing more than 40 million beverage containers into the trash every year despite efforts to encourage recycling.

That’s the finding of a series of trash surveys conducted recently by the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District in Duluth.

In the latest effort, in October, WLSSD staff donned gloves and ripped open garbage bags on the tipping floor where garbage trucks dump their loads — sorting through about 49 garbage truckloads, more than 13,000 pounds of trash, over five days. They looked at a mix of loads from homes and businesses.

They found a lot food waste that should be composted, tons of paper that should be recycled and even a few microwaves and water heaters that are illegal to trash.

But it was plastic beverage bottles and aluminum cans that stunned the survey crew.

“We knew we had an issue with beverage containers. But when we did the math, it was shocking,” WLSSD spokeswoman Karen Anderson said. “It came to more than 18 million pop and beer cans, and another 19 million plastic bottles, every year.” And that only from Duluth, Hermantown and Proctor, she said.

That’s a lot of AquaFina, Mountain Dew and Bud Light — 423 cans and 461 plastic bottles per house per year in the Duluth area that aren’t being recycled.

During the holidays, more glass ends up in the trash, with wine, liquor and beer bottles topping the list.

Recycling not only saves landfill space but requires less energy and fewer natural resources to transform old containers into new products.

via Peek at Northlanders’ trash reveals a troubling surprise | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

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