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For Earth Day, Residents Encouraged to Recycle

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Hazardous materials are separated at a landfill in Minot, N.D. (Shannon Bauer/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
Hazardous materials are separated at a landfill in Minot, N.D. (Shannon Bauer/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
April 20, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D. – People around the world are celebrating the earth on Sunday. This year is the 48th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970.

But the day isn't just reserved for celebrations. Many organizations also bring attention to threats to our planet, such as climate change. In North Dakota, one group is focusing on another issue: how to reduce waste.

Sherwin Wanner, president of the North Dakota Solid Waste and Recycling Association, says recycling has caught on across the state since the organization began in the 1990s and Earth Day highlights that work.

"Recycling is an everyday commitment, and reuse of materials is an everyday commitment,” says Wanner. “So, I think it brings attention to the 'work part' of everyday activities that have to go on, and the commitment to those areas."

While consumer recycling is important, Wanner also wants to highlight the work that industries are doing to recycle material. For instance, he says the construction industry has been reusing materials such as trees and concrete for buildings, keeping them from piling up at landfills.

In 2013, Americans generated more than 250 million tons of trash, and recycled and composted nearly 90 million tons of this material, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The association kicked off Earth Day celebrations Thursday night at the Bismarck Career Academy.

Diana Trussell is manager of the North Dakota Department of Health's Solid Waste Program and also helped plan the Bismarck event. She says North Dakotans should check with their local municipalities on how their recycling and waste programs work, since they vary from town to town.

"We encourage everyone to work with their local city, the towns, to see what recycling programs they have available, to see what they can do and make sure that they're recycling what they can and only recycling what is able to be part of those programs,” says Trussell. “That helps reduce our waste that goes into the landfills."

Events are planned this weekend across the state, including trash pickup and birdhouse installations at North Dakota State University in Fargo on Sunday.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND