Otter Tail County Solid Waste Department Asks Residents to Not Bag Their Recycling

Posted On: June 10, 2020

June 9, 2020 –Otter Tail County, MN–The Otter Tail County Solid Waste Department and GreenCorps member Brittney Kakac are launching a campaign to reduce the amount of bagged recycling in our recycling program.

Through informational posts on social media platforms and additional stickers on drop-off recycling bins, the Solid Waste Department hopes to reduce the amount of bagged recycling by informing residents that loose recycling is preferred over bagged. Residents can expect to see new stickers applied to drop-off recycling bins featuring county recycling staff with a reminder that bagged recycling affects staff ability to sort recyclables.

Bagged recycling increases labor costs, as staff at the Recycling Center spend over 50 hours each week ripping open bags. Around half of all plastic, and about a quarter of all the aluminum collected from drop-off recycling sites is in bags. Bagged recycling poses a hazard to staff, as all recycling is sorted by hand. While tearing open bags, staff have been sprayed with sour milk and much worse. Staff cannot see if there are needles or other sharp objects inside of bags, putting them at risk of accidental needle pricks. Bags also generate more waste and take up more space in the drop-off bins which then need to be emptied more frequently. To reduce staff time, protect our staff, reduce waste, and improve the efficiency of the drop-off recycling program, please place only loose recyclables in the bins.

“The bottom line is that plastic bags are a contaminant to recycling programs and are simply a waste – a waste of time for processing and a waste of money, especially if used only once for recycling,” said Rena Simon, Recycling Manager, Otter Tail County Solid Waste Department.

Instead of bagging your recyclables, please consider these alternatives:

  • transport your recyclables in a bin or tote
  • reuse the bags used for transporting your recycling
  • transport your recyclables in a cardboard box or brown paper bag which you can then recycle
  • plastic shopping bags are not recyclable in our program, please check for plastic bag recycling programs at participating retail locations

Please keep bagged recycling out of the bins but do continue to bag your trash! Thank you for saving our staff time and energy, improving the efficiency of our program, and recycling right. To review the Otter Tail County Recycling Guide or use the Waste Wizard to find out if an item is recyclable visit

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