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Turning trash into treasure

Recycling gives new life to old products

By PHYLLIS ZORN

Staff writer

A soda can you drop into a recycling bin could end up traveling over railroad tracks made from a steel can you dropped beside it and return in a case made from a box you also recycled.

If you enjoy a famous brand of beer along with a snack, you might have touched the same metal before and be eating from a bowl that once was your milk jug — all while being kept cool by fiberglass insulation made from a glass bottle you dropped into that recycle bin.

Paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum and steel cans, and plastic all are accepted for recycling by towns in Marion County.

Marion provides curbside pickup of recyclable items and delivery to Marion County transfer station. Hillsboro residents take their items to recycle bins under a water tower, where McPherson Area Solid Waste picks them up.

Either way, recyclable items are taken to a South Hutchinson facility operated by Waste Connections, which sorts the items and markets them to companies that produce new products from old.

Keith Shaw, site manager for Waste Connections, said paper and cardboard are sold to the Sonoco mill in Hutchinson, which turns them into cardboard containers.

Glass is sold to Johns Manville’s McPherson plant, where it is made into fiberglass insulation.

Aluminum cans are sold to Anheuser-Busch, which recycles them into new cans.

Steel cans are sold to U.S. Steel in Gary, Indiana, where they are given new purpose as railroad tracks.

Plastic containers are sold to a plastics recycler in Illinois.

Plastic numbered one through seven, paper products including cardboard, glass bottles and jars, and cans can be recycled.

County recycling director Bud Druse said the county makes a profit on its recycling program. Waste Connections pays for the recycled goods it trucks to the company and the county clears $11,000 to $12,000 annually, Druse said.

County residents pay $36 per ton to dump trash at the landfill at El Dorado. The county is paid an average of $64 per ton of recycled goods.

“It’s helping, as long as we can keep money coming in,” Druse said. “Eventually, recycling is going to be mandatory.”

Carlsons’ Grocery in Marion has its own agreement with Sonoco to pick up cardboard boxes. The store makes about $1,000 per year on the agreement, co-owner Greg Carlson said.

“It reduces my trash by two-thirds,” Carlson said.

Last modified Aug. 30, 2017

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