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Moorhead Recycling Drop-Off Sites Facing High Contamination Rates

Post Date:10/22/2020

Residents of Moorhead….we need your help!

Contamination and illegal dumping at the drop-off sites has significantly increased in the past 6 months. Contamination results in material being dumped into the landfill instead of being recycled. Illegal dumping increases costs to all of us because the material must be cleaned up and hauled to the landfill by additional crews and equipment. Moorhead currently has four recycling drop-off sites around the City.

• Southside Regional Park, NE corner of 23 St S and 40 Ave S
• Woodlawn Point, 418 Elm St
• Public Works Facility, 700 15 Ave N
• 1321 1 Ave N

The materials collected at each of the drop-off sites include plastic, aluminum, glass, cardboard, newspaper, magazines, and yard waste. Materials are to be clean and placed loosely in the bins (not in plastic bags).

Common contamination issues seen at the drop-off sites:

• Plastic bags filled with recyclables
• Large unrecyclable plastic materials such as kiddie pools, basketball hoops, lawn chairs, etc.
• Styrofoam in cardboard boxes
• Branches in yard waste bins

Impact: Due to the high rates of contamination at all of the drop-off sites, several dumpsters are dumped as garbage each week. On average, dumpsters designated for plastics must be dumped as garbage due to contamination 1-2 times per week at the Southside location.

The recycling drop-off sites account for 275 tons or only 7 percent of Moorhead’s total recycling collected annually. Contamination and illegal dumping are increasing the cost to operate these sites and contribute far less to our recycling program than curbside recycling. The cost of these sites are beginning to outweigh the benefit to the recycling program and to our environment.

Moorhead Public Works Director Steve Moore stated, “The recycling drop-off sites are provided as an added benefit to the residents of Moorhead. We constantly evaluate our operations to provide cost-effective and efficient essential services; however, the misuse of the drop-off sites continues to increase costs and divert labor from other essential services Public Works provides. We need everyone’s help to use these sites responsibly. While the majority of Moorhead residents are great recyclers and contribute to our successful recycling program, there are still users who continue to contaminate the dumpsters and illegally dump garbage and other items. Unfortunately, if the misuse of our recycling sites continues, we will be forced to close these sites.”

For more information on recycling in Moorhead, visit

PLASTIC DUMPSTER CONTAMINATIONAbove photo: A recycling dumpster for plastic at the Southside drop-off site location that was overflowing with unrecyclable materials, including electronics, toys, and furniture. Due to high contamination, this bin was dumped at the landfill.

ALUMINUM DUMPSTER CONTAMINATIONAbove photo: A recycling dumpster for aluminum at the Southside location that had several plastic bags filled with recyclables. Plastic bags jam the sorting machines, posing a danger to workers. Due to high contamination, this bin was dumped at the landfill.

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