Trash to Treasure

Everyone has unwanted waste. Whether it is plastic buckets, packing peanuts, cardboard boxes, or pallets there are people in Otter Tail County who may actually benefit from used items. Look in the corners of your business, organization or household. There could be something useful that someone else may want.

Materials Exchange Program
The Otter Tail County Solid Waste Department implemented a Materials Exchange Program for businesses, organizations, and households in October of 1999. The Otter Tail County Solid Waste Department was awarded a grant from the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance to initiate and conduct a Materials Exchange Program. This program is a free service to link businesses, organizations and households that have reusable goods they no longer need to those who can use them.

Advantages / Benefits
There are several advantages to materials exchange and many businesses, organizations and households have had the opportunity to be apart of this successful program. For example, Lakeland Christian School, A Ministry of Christian Outreach, Inc. of Henning listed a few needs on the Otter Tail County’s Material Exchange List. On their list of items needed were computers. The Otter Tail County Materials Exchange helped to put them in touch with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service which was looking for an acceptable disposal method for their old, but functional computers. Four used computers were saved from being disposed of at an Otter Tail County transfer site.

Productive Alternatives
Another example of a trash to treasure success is Productive Alternatives of Fergus Falls. Productive Alternatives had an extensive amount of wood scrap that was being incinerated. Steve Lorshbough, production manager at Productive Alternatives, called Otter Tail County Solid Waste hoping for help on how to reduce disposal costs for the overwhelming 500,000 pounds of wood scrap per year. Otter Tail County referred him to a business listed on the Minnesota Materials Exchange website. In the summer of 2001, Steve contacted the Sylva Corporation in Princeton, Minn. The Sylva Corporation now picks up each truckload of the scrap, processes it and uses it for mulch. Productive Alternatives has now reduced their waste stream as well as having the added benefit of saving thousands of dollars in disposal costs every year.

Help Out the Humane Society
A successful exchange can be both receiving items needed and giving items that are no longer needed. The Otter Tail County Humane Society has listed both items needed and items to be given away. A couple of those growing needs on the list are bleach, dog food, puppy food, kitty food and kitty litter. They have also given away a number of items that were taking up space, such as small pet taxis and 5-gallon square pails. All of those items have been successfully given away. In fact, they have been so successful they do not have a current need to be listed on the exchange list.

Making A Difference
With so many examples of successful exchanges every year, the Otter Tail County Solid Waste Department has continued this program by listing items on our website. Additionally, a semi-annual exchange list is sent to all businesses, organizations and households who have identified an interest or have offered materials to the exchange. For more information on the Otter Tail County Materials Exchange contact the Otter Tail County Solid Waste Department.

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