Curbside Single Stream Recycling:

  • Single Stream Recycling Frequently Asked Questions . . .

    • What is single-stream recycling?

      Single-stream/single sort isn't anything fancy. It simply refers to a system that takes the individual 'source separated' recycling "streams" collected through the Becker County curb side program — paper, metal, plastic, and cardboard — and puts them together in one bin. We request you take glass containers to the public recycling sites listed on the 'Public Recycling Locations' tab above.

    • What exactly can I put into a single stream bin?

      The items below can be placed into a single stream bin:

      • Newspapers/Brown Paper Bags
      • Magazines, Catalogs
      • Telephone/Soft Cover Books
      • Junk Mail/Envelopes (all types)
      • Paper
      • Paperboard (cereal/tissue boxes)
      • Cardboard
      • Plastic (examples: Milk Jugs, Bleach/Detergent, Shampoo Bottles, etc.)
      • Metal Cans (tin/steel/aluminum)

      ~Please do not tie up or bag your newspaper or cardboard, simply place them in the same container as all your other recyclables. Boxes that are not "broken down" or flattened take up space and increase the cost of recycling as more trips are needed to remove recyclables. Do your part and BREAK DOWN cardboard boxes!

    • Can I put bagged recyclables into my single-stream bin?

      NO, we request recyclables be placed loose in cart. (Exception: shredded paper may be placed in paper bags and secured closed)

    • Can I put any type of metal in my single-stream bin?

      NO, only food type cans (tin/steel/aluminum) can go into the carts. (Scrap metal can go in to the 'Big Blue Bin' public sites).

    • What do I have to do in order to prepare recyclable items?

      Flatten boxes. This saves space and lowers the operating costs the program and clean out food residue from food containers.

    • What types of paper can I recycle? Can I recycle envelopes with the plastic windows? What about staples, spiral notebooks, glossy advertisements, and post-its?

      All paper items can be tossed into the recycling bin. The recycling process filters out all non-natural items (such as staples & plastic windows).

    • Do I have to worry about labels on bottle and cans?

      No. Labels are acceptable on bottles and cans.

    • Where can I get more information about recycling?

      Call your hauler or Becker County Environmental Services at 218-846-7310

    • Why are we moving to single-stream?

      Using just one collection bin for all your recyclable items increases the ease and convenience of recycling so that more people participate and more resources are saved. Single-stream offers more efficient collections for the haulers who had previously had to separate each commodity.

    • Why can't we put glass in the cart?

      Recycling glass is still important, but the inclusion of glass in the single stream process also creates challenges in the marketing of the paper and cardboard commodities. It makes some of the commodity contaminated and therefore unmarketable.

    • Doesn't this lower the value of the materials, and won't there be a lot of contamination?

      If the single sort commodities are clean, the rate of contamination is fairly low.

      The major contaminate problem is glass shards in the commodity mix. Although glass was introduced as part of the single stream process years ago, because of the contamination issue, state-wide and nation-wide -- glass is being pulled from the commodity stream in many places.

      Glass should still be recycled, please take the glass containers to the public recycling sites listed on the 'Public Recycling Locations' tab above.

    • Where does the single stream/single sort go from here?

      Becker County will ship the single stream commodity to markets to ready them for sale, the closest markets being in the Twin Cities.

    • How are the materials separated?

      Depending on the vendor, most material recovery facilities (MRF's) in the Twin Cities use machinery such as optical sorters, eddy current and magnets, along with manual labour to separate commodities.

    • Won't the paper get wet if I recycle my commingled containers with the paper? Doesn't that make the paper non-recyclable?

      The paper mills allow up to 5% moisture in the paper so it's not a problem. As always, we do ask that you empty and rinse all your containers to keep food contamination out of your bin. But moisture will not ruin the paper.

    • Are there new materials with the program?

      Yes. Cartons are now accepted with the new single stream/single sort curb side program.

    • What kinds of plastic can we recycle?

      Plastics with #1 - #7 on the bottom of the plastic container. We do not take Styrofoam, salt or dog food type bags. Plastic bags can be recycled through the local grocery stores.

    • Why can't we recycle freezer boxes?

      Paperboard boxes that were designed for freezer foods, such as frozen pizza and entrées, have a plastic polymer sprayed on them to protect against freezer burn. That same coating prevents the box from breaking up in the recycling process. These materials are not recyclable.

    • What do I do with other items such as: light bulbs, batteries, electronics, etc.?

      These items do not go into the single stream cart; they can be brought to the Becker County Transfer Station: 24413 County Rd 144, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501 or call 218-846-7310 for more information.

    • I don't mind sorting my materials. Isn't it better for recycling if we separate them like we've been doing?

      It is always good for recycling when the materials are properly sorted at "the source", (your home, school or office). The 'Big Blue Bins' will stay in the same locations throughout the County and will continue to be collected 'source separated' (each commodity in their own bin).

Single Stream in:

The change to single stream is happening in the Cities of Detroit Lakes, Frazee, Audubon, and Lake Park in the spring of 2017. Becker County's goal is to work towards a 60% recycling rate and single-stream helps to increase this volume of materials collected. It is good for recycling if ever-increasing amounts of material are kept out of the landfill and sold in good clean condition to the remanufacturing companies that make new products from recycled material.


Do not place non-recyclable items, trash, food scraps or other banned items in the recycling containers. This could cause the entire load to be rejected.

Public Recycling (Big Blue Bins):


Newspaper, office paper, phone books, magazines & paper-board (e.g. tissue, cereal & pop boxes)



Clean aluminum, tin, steel cans (no need to remove labels) and small pieces of scrap metal



Bottles and jugs - all colors
(NO windows & ceramic dish type)



Corrugated cardboard boxes
(NO pizza boxes or freezer food boxes)



#1 through #7 product containers
(YES yogurt and margarine tubs!)
(NO plastic wrap, plastic bags, disposable diapers)


Public Recycling Locations: