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Ramsey/Washington Recycling and Energy Center practices to cut back landfill dumping

The Ramsey/Washington Recycling and Energy Center has enacted new waste protocols aimed to keep more waste out of landfills.

Starting Jan. 1, local waste and recycling haulers will bring all the waste they have collected to the Newport facility, according to the new waste designation ordinance amendments.

At this time, a portion of collected waste is taken to landfills by haulers. Under the amendment, recently passed by the Washington County Board, haulers must take all the waste into the recycling and energy center rather than to a landfill.

At this time the recycling and energy center also takes in some waste from Dakota and Scott counties. To make up for extra waste coming in from the Washington and Ramsey county area, fees on the amount of waste brought in from surrounding counties will increase, said Judy Hunter, of the Washington County Public Health and Environment Division.

They are "in some sense displacing other waste," Hunter said, by taking more waste from Washington and Ramsey counties rather than more from surrounding counties.

Waste from other counties could still be accepted dependent on capacity; Washington and Ramsey counties have first priority.

Hunter said they wanted to ensure all waste after recycling from the two counties would be processed. Non-recyclables coming through the center are burned for use as a new resource.

These changes have been in the works since the Washington and Ramsey jointly acquired the facility, Hunter said.

"When the two counties purchased the facility, (they) made it clear that they wanted to improve how waste was being processed," Hunter said.

Haulers were made aware of the ordinance changes early this year, and the Recycling and Energy Board negotiated the new waste designation protocols with them.

There will be some additional recycling at the facility as more waste comes in, to make sure as much recycling is pulled from the waste as can be. Hunter said they have been looking into increasing recycling.

The amendment applies to acceptable waste as already categorized in the current ordinance, meaning that materials such as hazardous, medical, or industrial waste are not accepted.