Big changes are coming to the RRRSWA, but few of them will actually impact the public.

There have been a lot of rumors floating around the area in recent weeks about the Redwood-Renville Regional Solid Waste Authority (RRRSWA, or “the recycling center” for short).

On Tuesday afternoon, the Redwood and Renville Counties joint-power board made some decisions that will clarify the recycling center’s future, clarified some changes that will happen at RRRSWA, and how those changes will affect area residents and businesses.

Jon Mitchell, Executive Director of RRRSWA, said Tuesday that, as far as the public is concerned, you won’t notice any changes except you’ll be able to put glass in your recycling bin again starting Jan. 1. Also, starting in mid-November, RRRSWA will still accept aluminum, but won’t be paying for it any more.

According to Mitchell, all the changes at RRRSWA will be behind the scenes. RRRSWA will still collect recyclable materials curbside and in county bins, the same as for the past four years. However, RRRSWA will no longer process recyclable materials on-site. Instead, West Central Sanitation will compact and haul all recyclables to a plant in Shakopee to be processed.

Mitchell explained the new system comes down to one factor: cost. Recycling revenues are at an all-time low. With the changing markets, collecting old plastic, aluminum, glass, and the rest has gone from generating revenue for Redwood and Renville Counties to losing money. Cardboard and aluminum are at record lows, the county now has to pay someone to haul glass away, and many recycling centers have discontinued taking some materials at all, such as magazines.

Mitchell said the problem is nationwide, and that recycling centers all across the nation are closing or having to downsize. Currently RRRSWA has $3,290,000 in outstanding debt, and has been operating at a deficit since 2016. If nothing changes, RRRSWA is projected to have an estimated 2020 deficit of $244,000.

With RRRSWA no longer processing recyclables on site, approximately 15 employees are expected to be laid off. Three full-time employees (one shared with the Renville County Demolition Landfill) will continue to perform all non-processing services and programs currently done by RRRSWA.

As far as trash collection, nothing will change as far as the public is concerned. The only change is that all trash haulers who currently use the Redwood Falls facility for dumping will continue to do so, but it will be compacted by staff from West Central Sanitation for transporting away to the Lyon County landfill.

Mitchell said that if all the new changes are approved by the Renville County Board at its Nov. 26 meeting, by this time next year the two-county recycling center could be operating at a balanced budget for the first time.

For more information, contact Jon Mitchell, RRRSWA/RRRMRF Executive Director at 320-523-8002 or 507-637-1800.