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  • Writer's pictureKeep Yankton Beautiful

Talkin' Trash

A Primer on Trash

Tom Nelson, Keep Yankton Beautiful

Have you ever wondered where your trash goes after it’s been picked up by the City of Yankton garbage service or you’ve dropped it off yourself at the Yankton Transfer Station? 

Your household garbage from the City of Yankton’s curbside service gets compacted and pressed into the compactor trucks during the loading process; this removes the air out of the trash. When the compactor trucks are full they are tipped or dumped onto the floor of the Yankton Transfer Station and pushed into the top side of empty semi-trailers. When those trailers are full, they are transported from the Yankton Transfer Station to our co-owned Vermillion landfill, about 25 miles away, located several miles north and west of the intersection of Highway 19 and Highway 50 (same corner as the Polaris Warehouse). Our trash is then loaded into a baler and squished into cubed bales. This extra step is taken not only to reduce the space taken on-site but also to contain airborne garbage like plastic bags that find their way into our household waste. The bales are then stacked in rows and are eventually buried in their final resting area. 

All the items you dispose of in your single-stream recycling red bins are also taken to the transfer station where they are loaded into semi-trailers and then hauled to Millennium Recycling in Sioux Falls for sorting and recycling. Sharps (medical needles, lancets, syringes, etc.) dropped off at the transfer station booth are then sent to Sioux Falls for processing. It's crucial to separate medical sharps from household waste, as they can be dangerous to solid waste employees!

Waste oil can be dropped off at the Transfer Station, where it is sent to Sioux Falls for recycling and burned as fuel oil. You can dispose of waste oil during the Yankton Transfer Station’s business hours: Monday through Friday from 8:00-3:45, and Saturday from 8:00 to 11:45. Logs, tree branches, and other untreated lumber goes to the wood pile at the transfer station. Several times a year the wood pile is ground up by Mueller Pallets and recycled and then burned and used for fuel. Yard and garden waste that is free of wood and sticks are composted on-site at the transfer station and that compost is available for consumer use and available to community members at no cost. 

Construction debris such as untreated lumber, stone, bricks, and other garbage mixed with firm objects (like metals and woods) are separated and taken to the Vermillion Landfill and buried. This waste does not go through the baling process, as it is low on airborne trash and heavy on objects that could damage the baler machines. Concrete streets and concrete free of rebar and debris are separated and recycled. It is ground back down and used locally as underfill on future street projects. Roofing shingles with mixed paper are landfilled with construction debris; roofing shingles without paper are filled into a pit for storage and are charged a lesser rate for drop-off.  

Washers, dryers, and stoves with no freon are recycled at Yankton Metals. Dishwashers have a plastic metal mix that is difficult to recycle, so they are landfilled with construction debris. Refrigerators, freezers, and dehumidifiers with freon have the freon removed and recycled off-site by a third party. Sludge that is removed from car wash pits is taken and filled into another pit at our transfer station. Car and truck tires are taken, and they are sent to Bismarck, North Dakota for recycling. Christmas trees end up with wood waste, pumpkins, and other soft garden waste end up going to the compost pile. 

New to town? The Yankton Transfer Station is located at 1200 W 23rd Street; their hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., and Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. The after-hours dropoff location is located directly east of the Transfer Station entrance and is accessible during the hours the Transfer Station is closed. This is an excellent opportunity for Yankton residents to bring grass clippings, tree branches, and recyclable items (such as large cardboard boxes) to the after-hours dropoff. 

In addition to taking advantage of the many services offered daily by the City of Yankton, such as our single-stream recycling program and the convenience of after-hours dropoff, keep in mind that there are still items that don’t fit any of the categories above, such as household hazardous waste (anything toxic, corrosive, ignitable, or reactive). From fingernail polish to floor polish, mothballs to batteries, powdered bleach to pesticides, these items are all around your home and can be hazardous to children, pets, and the environment if improperly disposed of. Take advantage of the annual Household Hazardous Waste event next spring to ensure these items don’t endanger your family or our Mother Earth! In addition to keeping these hazardous items out of our trash, please remember that plastic bags are no longer accepted for recycling in our red bins. Do your part, when you are able, and bring your reusable bags when shopping. Hold on to the plastic bags you DO have and consider where they could have another life (to the Heartland Humane Society or the library). And when the plastic bags have reached the end of their useful lives, be sure to recycle them during the KYB Plastic Bag Recycling Drive beginning in October. Until then, keep up the good work, Yankton. It takes all of us to Keep Yankton Beautiful! 

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