Self-service waste depot has been open for one year
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By Gretta Becay

About one year ago, the self-service waste depot opened at the transfer station near the recycling bins between Kasson and Mantorville on County Road 21.

The depot allows people to deposit their trash 24 hours a day and 365 days a year which can be a real advantage for those who cannot get to the transfer station during regular business hours.

The depot also was built to give people an alternative to burn barrels if trash service to their property is problematic.

One customer who began using the self-service depot almost as soon as it opened explained why it suits her and her husband.

“Our driveway is a very long one so getting commercial trash service wasn’t really practical. We’ve always used a burn barrel but when this service started and we realized how badly burn barrels pollute, we started using this.

When signing up we thought the program meant extra effort for us, but instead it has made our lives so much easier. I was dreading the hassle of hauling stuff into town but it actually turned out to be much less hassle than before. For example, when we shop, we changed our purchasing to buy items with less packaging. And, at home, we use more reusable items instead of throw-away things like paper towels. We make a trip to the transfer station less than once a month with our little green bags. We really appreciate the convenience and how it’s made us more conscious of the waste stream. And we never use the burn barrel now.”

Mark Gamm, Environmental Services Director, had explained to the county commissioners at a meeting in the past that the low temperatures created in a burn barrel or open fire release toxins into the air including dioxins and furans. These settle onto pastureland and crops. Humans consume milk, fish, and meat that has been contaminated with these compounds. The compounds can cause cancer, birth defects, and other chronic health issues.  

About half of the dioxins and furans in the state’s air is from open burning of household waste.

There are 77 people in the county who have signed up for the self-service facility so far and they have dumped about 16 and one-half tons. That has kept a lot of pollution out of the air we breathe even if only some would have been burned in open fires or burn barrels.

Gamm explained that the temperatures in a burn barrel don’t rise above 500 degrees and therefore, combustion is incomplete. In a commercial incinerator, like the one used in Olmsted County, temperatures reach 2,200 degrees.

Ken Paulson, Solid Waste Facility Manager, Rita Cole, Assistant Waste Management Administrator, and Gamm are pleased with the growth but would be happy to see the number of customers triple.

That would fill up the little compactor weekly. Now it only has to be emptied about once every three weeks.

Customers who want to use the facility fill out an application and are given a key code to get into the building that houses the compactor.

There are certain rules to follow that help keep the facility running smoothly and there haven’t been any issues during the past year that interrupted the service, officials explained.

A grant from the state partially paid for the facility. The compactor is housed in a building that is about 24-feet by 32-feet in size just to the west and south of the recycling bins.

For more information about signing up to use the self-service waste facility, contact (507) 635-6273, use the county website at and click on Environmental Services, submenu garbage disposal/recycling, or go to the main office at the transfer station.