Scott County organizations are preparing for spring cleaning through local cleanup days and by educating residents on how to responsibly dispose of unwanted items.

Nick Reishus, a Scott County environmentalist working in the county’s recycling and solid waste program, said residents should be informed about the resources that are available to them — during the spring and year-round. “It’s always important to remember that there’s a lot of local disposal and recycling sites open to Scott County residents,” he said.

Several cities

For over 20 years, the county has provided grants for its cities and townships that host spring cleanup days. Minnesota provides funding for counties to distribute locally for recycling initiatives, Reishus said.

He added that the grants go toward initiatives and events that help residents properly recycle items like mattresses, appliances and shredded paper.

Multiple cities in the county host cleanup days in spring. Shakopee kicks things off at the end of this month, hosting its cleanup day on Saturday, April 30. For a flat fee, residents of Shakopee, Louisville Township and Jackson Township can bring acceptable recyclable items, yard waste and garbage for proper disposal to Shakopee Public Works, 400 Gorman Street.

Cleanup events are also being held this spring and summer in Savage, Jordan, New Prague and Elko New Market. Prior Lake will have a shredded materials and textile recycling day in spring. Adjoining townships are also included in these cleanup days.

Reishus tracks and reports recycling rates and waste amounts. He said that during his time with the county, he has seen an increase in waste going to landfills.

The county’s recycling rate for mixed municipal solid waste sits at around 55%. While that is above the required 50% MSW recycling goal, Reishus said Minnesota requires the county to try and meet a 75% goal by 2030.

To achieve this, Reishus said it’s important for residents to know where and how they can responsibly dispose and recycle items.

A “waste navigator” website is available through Scott County Environmental Services. Residents can enter the name of an item they want to dispose of, or choose from an existing list, and the navigator will point out on a map all the county locations that accept the item. The map provides contact information and hours of operation for each location.

The website also explains the different waste categories, preferred recycling or disposal options and further information on how to safely and properly get rid of an item.

The Scott County Household Hazardous Waste facility also has a page on the county’s website explaining which materials the location accepts, as well as information on costs and drop-off instructions. Scott County HHW, located at 588 Country Trail East in Jordan, accepts items like electronics, automotive chemicals, paint and paint products, plastic bags, yard chemicals and more.

Proper disposal

Spring cleaning season is also a very busy time of year for Dem-Con, the waste and recycling management company. Dem-Con handles 120,000 tons of recyclable materials every year.

Dem-Con President Bill Keegan said the facility sees a noticeable increase in waste around this time of year. This includes more residents dropping off bulkier items like mattresses, box springs, furniture and grills.

Dem-Con also gets involved with the local spring cleanup days. After materials are dropped off at city cleanup days, items that Dem-Con manages are passed along to its facility. “With pretty much all the cities in the southwest metro, we’re involved in one way or another,” Keegan said.

Crystal McNally, Dem-Con Education and Marketing Director, said this time of year is great for educating residents on how to take care of waste. She said the “out of sight, out of mind” belief leads to many people incorrectly disposing of their unwanted items.

“I encourage residents to take a minute and look at their junk not as a whole pile, but in individual cases. Try to reuse and recycle and make sure things get to the right place — everything can’t go in the trash,” she said.

Keegan shared this sentiment, highlighting his hope that residents will responsibly handle their spring clutter.

“I think a lot of times, residents just want to get rid of their stuff,” Keegan said. “We have ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ for our hierarchy. But I don’t think people in the spring are thinking about reuse and recycle as much as ‘just get rid of it and throw it away.’”

Like Scott County’s website, Dem-Con’s also provides a detailed list of what is and isn’t accepted at its facility. McNally said the company also has looked to make waste drop-off less overwhelming and intimidating for residents. Last year, the Shakopee location simplified its drop-off process by creating designated sections with signs explaining where specific items go. Categories include electronics, furniture, appliances and tires.

“It’s so important for people to educate themselves on what they’re throwing away,” McNally said. “It’s going to take that extra step to figure out where things should go. But in the end, when it gets to the right place, it helps us all.”