CUSTER COUNTY—Home insulation, plastic fences, and even clothing can be made out of recycled materials. Approximately 700,000 pounds of materials are recycled each year in Custer County, therefore reducing the amount of waste in landfills and saving thousands of dollars in transfer station tipping fees. In honor of Earth Day earlier this month (April 22), KCNI/KBBN spoke to Custer County Recycling Manager Kelly Flynn.
“It’s a resource that makes a lot of sense to just do what we’re doing, rather than throw it away in a landfill where it won’t be used. Recycling is a really good option for managing your garbage. That’s what it was designed for,” Flynn said.
According to EPA.gov, approximately 32% of Americans recycle, up from less than 7% in 1960. On the local level, Flynn and employee Will Trumbull unload about 30 trailers each month from five different counties. Local trailers collect paper and paper board (cereal boxes, six pack holders, magazines, newspapers, office paper, NO dirty paper plates), tin cans, aluminum cans, #1 and #2 plastic bottles, and cardboard.
Flynn told KCNI/KBBN general market prices have risen but there is no real market for #3-#7 plastics. However, #1 and #2 plastic bottles are widely accepted for things such as dog houses, plastic fences, carpet, or even clothing. He specified bottles as having a neck smaller than the base with a screw on lid such as pop bottles or milk jugs. Cottage cheese, sour cream, or whipped topping containers, for example, are not accepted nor are fruit “clamshell” containers. However, those types of containers could be reused in the home for things like organizing toys, markers, or pet food.
“Recycling saves landfill space and it’s material that is used—everything we sell gets used for something. The cardboard, the paper we send is insulation for houses, up at Norfolk they grind that,” Flynn said.
Flynn asks the public with their help in sorting their plastics and says plastic containers must be clean to avoid contamination.
A jar of peanut butter is recyclable but must be cleaned first. Flynn says if you do not want to spend the time and water to wash it, throw it away instead. Greasy cardboard boxes should also be thrown away.
“Recycling is supposed to be clean material,” Kelly Flynn continued. “You just can’t contaminate what you’re doing in recycling. That’s the big issue for all the people like us at the recycling center that’s sorting.”
Plastic grocery sacks and other plastic wrap is not accepted in the trailers but can be recycled at participating store drop-offs.
Recycling trailers are located in Broken Bow, Anselmo-Merna schools, Anselmo & Berwyn (alternate every 2 weeks), Ansley, Ansley schools, Callaway, Arnold, Sargent, Litchfield, Ashton, Loup City, Burwell, St. Paul.
In a 2019 interview with Supervisors Chairman Barry Fox, the recycling center is funded through county tax dollars–based on valuation–which comes to about two percent of the county budget. The current lease on the building expires in 2023.
Call Kelly Flynn at 308-870-0313 for more information about recycling in Custer County.