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MinnKota changing offer for recyclables

During tough economic times, every penny counts, and MinnKota Recycling is counting on pennies to boost recycling rates in Detroit Lakes and Fargo-Moorhead.

Saturday is America Recycles Day, which MinnKota will mark by kicking off a program that offers a penny per pound for recyclables delivered to its redemption centers in Fargo, Moorhead, Grand Forks, N.D., and Detroit Lakes.

MinnKota already pays people for recycled aluminum beverage cans. Starting Saturday, the company also will pay 1 cent per pound for newspaper, magazines, plastics 1 and 2 with a neck, steel and tin cans and sorted paper, said Mary Aldrich, MinnKota sales manager.

Aldrich said that while a penny per pound isn't significant, "in this economy it might be worthwhile for some folks that want to bring in their other recyclables."

The goal is to boost recycling participation rates, make recycling more convenient and divert garbage from area landfills, she said.

"We're trying to lay out some incentives to encourage them to engage in recycling," she said. "And sometimes if you put a penny on it, that's the incentive that they need."

Aluminum recycling typically spikes during economic downturns, Aldrich said. Unfortunately, the market for aluminum also has suffered with the economy, she said. MinnKota is currently paying about 25 cents per pound for aluminum - about half what it was paying earlier this year.

In fact, markets for all recyclables have shrunk dramatically since China shut down major manufacturing plants before the Olympics, she said.

"There is no buying of recyclables going on overseas at this point, so it's flooded the domestic market," she said.

While recyclables are garnering lower prices, they still have a market, she said.

"There hasn't been a problem with moving material for years," Aldrich said.

Redemption programs for nonaluminum recyclables have been successful in other cities, including Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., she said.

People bringing recyclables to the redemption centers also can donate the proceeds to charity, she said.

MinnKota's redemption center is at Highway 59 North in Detroit Lakes.

In recognition of America Recycles Day, MinnKota will award gift certificates today to random F-M residents who "get caught" recycling at curbsides, drop sites or redemption centers. Those using recycling centers in the Minnesota cities of Barnesville, Hitterdal and Sabin also will be eligible for prizes.

On Saturday, Clay County Environmental Programs will celebrate the day by providing recycled-content, reusable shopping bags at several grocery and convenience stores in the county. Prizes also will be awarded at several of the city recycling centers in the county.

"A lot of people don't know it's available in rural Clay County," said Shannon Thompson, Clay County resource recovery technician.

Now in its 11th year, America Recycles Day is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and buy recycled products, according to the Web site of the National Recycling Coalition.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528