By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

County board members, on Feb. 23, authorized the county Solid Waste Department to apply for a Greater Minnesota Recycling and Composting Grant to offset costs in starting an organics recycling pilot program and a backyard composting pilot program. 

Outlining the program to county board members was county Solid Waste Director Chris McConn.

The estimated cost of the project is approximately $224,000. 

It is estimated that Otter Tail County will collect 200 tons of Source Separated Organics (SSO) material in the first year of the program. That would come from 20 potential pilot sites, and divert additional organic material through increased backyard composting adoption.

McConn told the five-person county board that this program would include coordination with adjoining counties.

The goal would be to increase film plastic recycling by 30 percent in Otter Tail County, Wadena County, and Todd County by 2024. This would be accomplished by expanding the program to all available ag producers, marinas, greenhouses and transfer stations.

In Otter Tail County the transfer stations are located in Fergus Falls, Pelican Rapids, North East, Henning and Battle Lake. There also are transfer stations in Todd County and Wadena County.

  “This will directly result in at least a 555-ton-per-year reduction in film plastic either landfilled, processed at the Perham Resource Recovery Facility, or most importantly in on-site burning,” says McConn.

To measure success, Otter Tail County will collect data on both tonnage of material collected and the number of users before and after expansion of the program. 

Based on previous collection numbers, the county has data on the average weight of a full collection container which will be used to calculate tonnage of collected material. 

Otter Tail County will also have access to data from film plastic at transfer stations which will provide information on total users of the program in addition to the amount of material collected.