How-To

  • Whether it has been recycled or is just sitting in a landfill, nearly every piece of plastic ever created still exists in some form. The fraction of plastic that does get recycled is shockingly low, sitting at just about 30%. The vast majority that isn't being recycled is accumulating in landfills or ending up as litter in roadways and water systems. Our society is making a shift towards disposable and/or single-use plastics and, according the the National Geographic, if current trends continue we can expect about 12 billion metric tons of plastic to end up in landfills. It can be extremely hard to give up plastic entirely, but small shifts in our behavior can make a huge difference in reducing our plastic pollution.

    1. Reusable Bags Reusable Bag

    According to the EPA, Americans use over 380 billion plastic bags and wraps every year. Although there are plastic bag drop-offs for recycling, most bags end up in landfills. By switching to reusable bags for shopping and produce items, you could dramatically lower your need for plastic. 

    2. Reusable Water Bottle

    Americans use approximately 50 billion water bottles every year yet the recycling rate for plastic is only 23%. By bringing a reusable water bottle when you're at work, school, or on-the-go, you will reduce your need to buy a single-use plastic water bottle. Not only will you be saving natural resources but you will also save a lot of money over time. 

    3. Say No to Straws Straws

    500 million plastic drinking straws are used and disposed of every day. Many of these straws end up littering our road and waterways making them one of the most treacherous pollutants because of the harmful effects they have on marine animals. Next time you're out to eat or at a coffee shop, remember to ask for your drink without a straw. And, if you're with a group, encourage them to follow your lead! Change often starts with one person.

    4. Avoid the Microplastics Microbeads in Toothpaste

    Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic (about the size of a sesame seed) that are found in many cosmetic and toiletry items including face wash and toothpaste. These small pieces of plastic get flushed down sinks and drains and end up in our water systems including oceans, lakes an rivers. Unfortunately, plastic does not break down or dissolve in water so it continues to pose a threat for marine life and birds. Studies are still being done to see what sort of long-term affects this might have on animal and human life, but what we do know is that avoiding it completely is a better option. 

    5. Pack In Or Pack Out Lunches

    If you normally eat out for lunch, try packing your own lunch in a reusable container instead. Not only will you save some money, but you'll also avoid any single use plastics that your food might otherwise come in. In addition, if you do go out to eat for lunch, consider bringing your own Tupperware to the restaurant for leftovers instead of using the disposable to-go containers. 

    6. Shop in Bulk Bins Bulk foods

    Many items such as nuts, fruits and beans are available in bulk bins which can be found at most grocery stores. By purchasing items from the bulk bins, you can avoid the single-use plastic that most items are wrapped in, and you can get the amount you need to avoid wasting food. Keep in mind that purchasing from bulk bins is not the same as buying in bulk because even though buying in bulk can be a better option to reduce excessive packaging, you'll find that you end up with more food than you need and it can be wasteful. 

    7. Buy Loose and Fresh Loose Fruit and Vegetables

    To go along with the tip above, buying fruits and veggies loose versus packaged will help lower your use of plastic. In addition, the small plastic bags that are available at grocery stores to put your food in is not at all necessary so if you're looking to use less plastic, you should skip them entirely. If you still prefer to bag your loose fruits and veggies, consider buying reusable produce bags to bring to the store with you. You can even find some that might increase the shelf life of certain foods! 

    8. Reusables at Parties Reusable cups and plates

    Parties and get-togethers are one of the most common places to see waste from disposable Styrofoam© plates and plastic silverware to one-time use decorations. Next time you host, consider using reusable and washable plates, cups and silverware instead of disposable. Not only will you reduce your waste, but it'll help make your party feel more personal and homey. In addition, if you do want to buy decorations, consider buying supplies that can be reused for years such as a universal "happy birthday" banner or cake topper.  

    9. Make Your Own Cleaners

    In the U.S. we generate 1.6 million tons of harmful household chemicals with the average home accumulating as much as 300 pounds of household hazardous waste. By making your own cleaner in a reusable bottle, you'll avoid the single use plastic bottles that most cleaners come in and you'll greatly decrease harmful chemicals in your home. For recipes on DIY green cleaners, visit our green cleaner guide

    10. Get it Fixed Fix-It Clinic Banner

    It's often easier for us to throw away common items when they break, but did you know you can get many of them fixed for free? In fact, every month Dakota County offers a free fix-it clinic where you can get expert help fixing common household items. Many residents have visited these clinics to fix old vacuum cleaners, broken fans, ripped clothing and so much more. To find an upcoming clinic near you, visit the Dakota County websiteand search "fix it."

     

  • Make your next event or gathering a green one! Dakota Valley Recycling can help you plan a low-waste event by providing free resources to residents and event planners. View the following guides to get started.

    Free Guides

    1. Planning a low waste event

    2. Reduce your waste guide for vendors

    3. Vendors that sell compostable products

    Borrow Supplies

    If you live in Apple Valley, BurnsvX-Frame Set-Upille, Eagan, or Lakeville, Dakota Valley Recycling also has free and easy to use recycling resources for your event including: 

    • Portable recycling, organics, and trash stations
    • Signs and banners
    • Bags and litter grabbers

    Contact Jackson Becker by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), or by phone (952-895-4511) to reserve equipment. Please note that for larger events requiring 10 or more frames/stations, we will direct you to use Dakota County resources

    Set up disposal

    In order to recycle what you collect, you will have to arrange for a pick up service through a licensed hauler. For a list of licensed commercial haulers, visit our hauler guide here

    If you collected organics during your event including food and compostable products, you must arrange a separate pick-up for the material to go to a commercial organics recycling site. You may set that service up with your selected hauler. If food and food scraps only were collected, you may place that in a backyard composter.

    If you collected any hazardous materials during your event including but not limited to paints, cleaners, fuels, and most products labeled dangerous, flammable, combustible, poisonous, or corrosive, you will need to bring these items to The Recycling Zone in Eagan. Residents are able to drop off hazardous waste for free during open business hours.  

  • From lithium ion to alkaline to zinc-carbon, there are many different types of batteries that you may encounter every day in your home. But do you know what to do with them?

    In many cases, you are able to bring your batteries directly back to the retailer. In Dakota County this includes but is not limited to: Target, Walmart, Home Depot, all car parts stores, Best Buy, RadioShack, Sams Club, Staples, Batteries Plus, and Lowe's. 

    Lithium Ion  Lithium Ion Battery

    Also known as a rechargeable battery, these batteries have become extremely common due to their convenience and cost savings. However, they do contain hazardous materials and are illegal to dispose of in your household garbage bin. Instead, place tape over the terminals and bring them to a retailer or the recycling zone to dispose of them for free.

    Alkaline Alkaline Battery

    Alkaline batteries are another very common household battery and come in many shapes, colors and sizes. Perhaps the common is the gold and black battery with the word “alkaline” written somewhere on the battery. These types of batteries can be disposed of in your household garbage bin, but they do contain valuable materials so it is better to bring them to The Recycling Zone to be recycled. These batteries are not accepted in your curbside recycling bin because they are too small and often get lost in the process or fall through the cracks in the materials recycling facility. When it comes to batteries, if in doubt- bring it to The Recycling Zone.

    Car Batteries    Car Battery

    Automotive batteries, also commonly referred to as lead-acid batteries, are large square lead blocks. These batteries are a type of lithium ion batteries and are illegal to dispose of in your household garbage bin. Instead, you can recycle them at your local automotive store, or take them to The Recycling Zone in Dakota County. 

    Nickel-Cadmium Batteries      Nickel Cadmium Battery

    Nickel-cadmium batteries are another type of rechargeable battery that uses nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium instead of lithium. These batteries are also illegal to throw away in your household garbage and must be disposed of responsibly either through a retail store or by bringing them into The Recycling Zone.   

    The Recycling Zone

    3365 Dodd Road (South Highway 149)
    Eagan, MN 55121
    651-905-4520

    For more information about materials accepted and hours, visit our Recycling Zone guide. 

    Battery Handling Tips

    • Store batteries in a vented plastic bucket or sturdy cardboard box away from light bulbs and other breakable items
    • Tape the terminals with electrical or plastic tape to prevent short circuiting
    • Older batteries may rust and leak. If a battery appears to be dirty or have a film around the terminals, use caution and do not touch the areas leaking. 
    • Always wash your hands after handling batteries or use gloves to prevent touching hazardous materials

     

  • Recycling around the home has become easier than ever as more materials are being accepted by haulers and facilities. However, reusing or recycling parts of the home itself after a remodel isn't as easy as throwing it in your curbside bin. Luckily, there are resources in the metro county to reuse and recycle just about any part of the home including carpet, cabinets, insulation, roofing material and more! Check out the reuse and recycling opportunities list below for the names and numbers of locations near you. 

    infographic of home renovation waste

    Reuse opportunities

    For a item to be reused, it must be in excellent condition free of stains, rips or tears. Each reuse location will have specific standards that must be adhered to. Call ahead to see if your item will be accepted or email the locations with a photo of the item you wish to donate. 

    Habitat for Humanity Restore
    2700 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapoilis
    612-588-3820

    Accepts: Appliances, building materials, carpet, flooring, hardware, kitchen cabinets, paint, tools and other misc. items
    See full list of accepted items

    Better Futures MN
    2620 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis
    612-455-6133

    Accepts: Doors, cabinets, lighting, lumber, appliances, tiles and plumbing
    See a full list of accepted items

    Bridging MN
    201 W 87th St, Bloomington MN
    952-888-1105

    Accepts: Furniture, housewares, small appliances & electronics, mirrors, artwork and pictures
    See a full list of accepted items

    Recycling opportunities

    Dem-Con Companies
    13161 Dem-Con Drive, Shakopee MN
    952-445-5755

    Accepts: Asphalt, cabinets, carpet, concrete, fencing material, fiberboard, house wrap, molded fiberglass, pipe, plywood, roofing material, sheetrock, siding, treated wood and more
    See a full list of accepted items

    Randy's Sanitation
    12620 Vincent Ave S, Burnsville MN
    763-972-3335 

    Accepts: Appliances, construction material, bath tubs, pallets, sinks, toilets and more
    See a full list of accepted items 

  • YoOrganics Container at Ames Center, Burnsvilleu may have seen new bins around your community featuring signs that say "organics only," but what does that mean? Organics recycling is the recycling of organic material- anything that was once alive- into compost, a special soil amendment. Composting happens naturally and requires very little energy input. Organics recycling plays a key role in keeping valuable materials out of landfills and doing it correctly will help Minnesota reach its 75% recycling goal. 

    What can go in the organics bin?

    About 30% of what we usually throw away is actually organics including food scraps and food-soiled paper products. 
    See a detailed list of acceptable and unacceptable items. 

    I backyard compost- is this different? 

    The organics recycling you see in your community is different than backyard composting because the organics are brought to a specialized recycling facility. This facility will line up the organics in windrows which creates more heat than you would find in your backyard. Because of this, things such as bones, meat, and paper-products can go in these bins. 

    Is composting the best solution to our waste problem?

    First and foremost, waste should always be reduced. If that is not possible, reusing is the next best thing. Only if we cannot reduce and reuse should we recycle or compost. Of course if the item is not recyclable or compostable such as but not limited to chip bags, Styrofoam©, and/or pet waste, then it must go in the trash. Reducing is especially important when it comes to buying food. Currently, in the United States, we are wasting as much as 40% of all of our food. Although composting is a great solution to preventing food scraps from entering the landfill, it is not the best solution to the food waste problem. For tips and tricks to reduce your food waste visit our Reduce Your Wasted Food Guide here

    How does it work?

    Composting is a natural process. Follow the arrows below to see what happens to items you put in the organics bin!

    Organics Recycling infographic

     

  • As more and more people turn to composting as a way to reduce their environmental impact, we are faced with a dilemma: is composting always better when it comes to paper? You may have heard that paper can only be recycled between five and seven times so it's easy to assume composting is a good alternative to recycling when the fibers are getting shorter. However, it's a little more complicated than that. By keeping paper out of the recycling bin, we are increasing the demand on trees, water and energy required to make virgin paper. So, to help break it down we have put together a list of the most confusing paper items to tell you whether composting or recycling is a better alternative. 

     

     

Contact Us

City Education Department
13713 Frontier Court
Burnsville, MN 55337-3817
Phone: 952-895-4559

Dakota Valley Recycling

DVR is the partnership recycling department for the Cities of Apple Valley, BurnsvilleEagan and Lakeville that connects residents and businesses to recycling, composting and waste disposal information.

DVR is not a drop off facility and does not accept any materials for recycling.