Cardboard collected in county alone is enough to create 11 million new pizza boxes

By Louis Hoglund

Pizza boxes: One of the more common throwaway items from households.

Speaking to area township officers last spring, Cedar Walters, information-education officer for Otter Tail County.

To illustrate the value of recycling, Otter Tail County’s recycling “guru’ Cedar Walters offers up an example to which folks can easily relate.

“There is enough cardboard recycled in Otter Tail County alone—to produce 11 million new pizza boxes,” said Walters, who is the county’s information and education officer. 

Cardboard recycling is a recreational activity, the way Walters views it. “It’s fun to stomp on cardboard boxes,” she noted—while encouraging folks to break down and flatten cardboard to fit in the recycling bins.  

8% of US agricultural land is used to produce the food that gets wasted!

25% of all freshwater in the US is used to produce food that is thrown away!

A wide range of recycling news, notes, and trivia was shared by Walters at the spring West Otter Tail Township Association meeting.

• Otter Tail County is expanding the Film Plastic Recycling Program into a regional program with Todd and Wadena counties. 

Currently, a little over 200 tons of film plastic are collected for recycling each year from Otter Tail County farms and boat storage facilities alone. The tonnage of collected film plastic is expected to increase by 30% over the next several years.

Residents can visit the Reuse Area at the Otter Tail County Household Hazardous Waste Center to get free automotive, cleaning, painting products, and more.

• With more than 6,000 individual visits to the household hazardous waste centers, thousands of pounds or gallons or quarts of potentially toxic chemicals and solvents have been prevented from entering the environment. 

• Not only is Mother Earth protected from pollutants, but the household centers are also a service to residents. Perfectly good paint products can be sorted through and picked up by other residents. Often, nearly-full gallons of paint and stain are brought to the center and can be re-purposed by another household, noted Walters. 

• Examples of household hazardous waste range from drain cleaners to fertilizer, from rodent poison to fluorescent bulbs. Also, insecticides, car wax, used oil, automotive fluids, pool chemicals, and mercury thermometers. 

“E Waste” is a concern in the solid waste world. Example: Lithium batteries, which are a leading cause of fires in landfills. Those rechargeable lithium batters, of all descriptions, should be recycled. Alkaline batteries, conventional flashlight batteries, for example, are safe in the garbage—because Mercury is no longer used in manufacturing them, said Walters. 

• Computers, monitors, electronic components, and cell phones should all be brought to Household Hazardous, because of the various chemistry and hardware contained in electronic items.

• Every year in the United States, almost 40% of all food produced goes uneaten. 95% of that goes straight into landfills. This includes millions of tons of preventable wasted food that was served but not eaten, spoiled food, unharvested crops, and “ugly food.”

Locations in Otter Tail County

Solid Waste Facility
1115 N Tower Rd, Fergus Falls, MN 56537, USA

Household Hazardous Waste Facility
1115 N Tower Rd, Fergus Falls, MN 56537, USA

Pelican Rapids Transfer Station
1101 9th St NW, Pelican Rapids, MN 56572, USA

For solid waste, recycling information in
Otter Tail County, call 218-998-8950

Otter Tail launched a pilot program with 20 sites, and collected 20,000 pounds of organic waste in the first month, said Walters.