Schaap Sanitation gets an upgradeWORTHINGTON — With the opening of the new Minnesota 60 four-lane highway south of Worthington slated for Friday, locals who haven’t braved the road construction for the past couple of years are in for a bit of a surprise.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — With the opening of the new Minnesota 60 four-lane highway south of Worthington slated for Friday, locals who haven’t braved the road construction for the past couple of years are in for a bit of a surprise.
Schaap Sanitation has used this time to make extensive improvements to its recycling facility. In addition to moving into a new office in February, Schaap District Manager Eric Joens is excited to showcase separate entrances for the commercial collection operation and residential drop-off site.
When MnDOT announced its design for the four-lane construction, Schaap Sanitation was given access only from a service road. The design would have required residents to drive past both the recycling center and maintenance area to reach the office.
“With approximately 30 trucks entering and exiting our facility every day, it just wasn’t a safe alternative for our customers or our employees,” Joens said. “That’s what drove our decision to construct this new facility right at the entrance of the new road.”
Now, people will be able to turn off of Minnesota 60 and drive straight into the parking lot of the new office, which was completed last February.
Along the west side of the office is a paved parking lot that extends to a new drop-off area for trees and shrubs, grass and leaves.
The composting sites are provided for Worthington residents only because of a contract Schaap has with the city. Next spring, a new residential recycling drop-off area will be completed in the same area, and security lighting has already been installed to allow for 24-hour drop-off of materials.
Meanwhile, a gated entrance was created in front of the new office for Schaap trucks to access the maintenance and commercial recycling facilities. The rolling gate will allow the business to block off access to the area after hours.
“This enhancement will separate our commercial recycling operations from the residential traffic, which can be very congested at times — especially during leaf pickup and after a wind storm,” Joens said. “Collection trucks, payloaders, freight trucks and recycling traffic will be separated from residential traffic for safety purposes.”
In addition to creating a new residential recycling drop-off area in the spring, Joens said Schaap will install more hard-surfaced road, complete landscaping and paint some of the older existing buildings.
“Today we’re totally operational, it’s just not 100 percent complete yet,” he said, adding that an open house is planned for sometime in the spring, after the work has been completed.
The open house will showcase the new recycling areas, as well as the office. The new building provides a conference room and ample space for continued business growth. Schaap Sanitation provides solid waste and recycling service to numerous counties, in addition to operating the Nobles County Landfill. The business has 28 full-time employees.
“It can be a very busy place,” Joens said. That conference room will allow the business to conduct meetings with multiple customers at one time, he noted.
Meanwhile, Schaap’s former office space, located in the same building where recyclables were processed, was converted into an employee safety and training room and break room.
“We were a little short on space before,” Joens said, With technology, Schaap’s is able to do PowerPoint programs and video trainings in the remodeled space.
The improvements made to the facility overall position Schaap for the growing and ever-changing business of recycling.
“In just a few years we’ve doubled the percentage of recycling we take from each household in Nobles County,” Joens said. “That will continue to grow as markets change. Technology is available to recycle different types of material that we purchase and consume.”
One example of that is the television. Gone are the days of the heavy, cathode-ray tube TV sets. Most people now have flat-screen, LED models. That shift has led to a “totally different type of recycling,” Joens said.
TV sets and other electronics continue to be collected at Schaap Sanitation, in addition to waste oil, fluorescent bulbs and other materials also accepted at the Nobles County Hazardous Waste Facility.
“We provide convenience. Their hours of operation are limited,” he said. “We have people on site 8 to 5, Monday through Friday. If we don’t provide that, (material) ends up in places they don’t belong.”
Nobles County continues to have one of the highest recycling rates in southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa, Joens said, adding that people do a “great job” and are responsible about getting their recyclables and garbage into the right containers.
“The most difficulty we had was medical waste,” he said. “Anything medical we can’t take (including prescription pill bottles). We will not expose our employees to all of the health issues in the world today. It must be treated as hazardous waste.”
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.