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Turn off waste stream

Solid waste is a growing problem in rural Minnesota -- one that impacts businesses, counties, and communities.

Local business owners as well as county, city and township officials and staff who would like to learn more about how to reduce waste, recycle more and save money by doing so are being invited to participate in two upcoming training sessions at the Becker County Courthouse in Detroit Lakes.

The trainings, which are both set for Tuesday, Feb. 12, will be offered free of charge by the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP), a non-regulatory technical assistance program of the University of Minnesota.

The business training session is set to take place from 8 a.m. to noon, while the training for government staff will take place from 1 to 5 p.m.

Some of the topics to be covered include an "intro to MnTap"; source reduction and waste prevention; managing organic wastes; ReUSE and the Minnesota Materials Exchange; waste assessment self-audit skills; data collection and analysis.

In addition, MnTAP staff will be conducting two on-site waste assessments at local businesses on Wednesday, Feb. 13, also free of charge

Because these training sessions and assessments are being funded through a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Utilities Program, there is no cost to participate.

"We're very excited to be hosting these sessions here," Gunderson said. "It's a really great opportunity for businesses and local government units in our area -- and we hope people will take advantage of it."

Businesses that are interested in signing up for the assessment should call or e-mail Sandy Gunderson at Becker County Environmental Services, 218-846-7200, ext. 7277, or, no later than Friday, Feb. 8.

This is because MnTAP will be working with the selected businesses ahead of time to understand their waste generation and cost burden, and their priority waste issues, so that the assessments will be efficiently tailored to the businesses' needs.

But even if your business is not selected by MnTAP as one of the two that will be assessed on Feb. 13, Gunderson said, Becker County staff will be offering similar assessments in the future as well.

"These assessments will be an ongoing opportunity, offered through Becker County in the coming years," she added.

Those who are interested in the training sessions on Feb. 12 should contact Gunderson as soon as possible.

Though some registrations will be accepted the day of the event, they would like to know ahead of time approximately how many people will be attending, so there will be adequate materials provided.

Refreshments will also be served for the training participants, Gunderson added.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454