Plastic haulers are growing their fleet and their holdings are increasing, pushing up shipping costs and sparking concern about how they will recoup some of the billions of dollars spent on clearing the way for the waste.
The Northwest Asset Transporters group in northern Minnesota just bought a newly constructed 60,000-square-foot truck yard from a Minnesota-based trucking firm that one company estimates is the largest in the world, Gov. Mark Dayton said Friday.
“It will mean that we can more efficiently manage plastic,” Dayton said. “Sailor bins will be larger to hold everything up, and all of that will go into a new landfill.”
Mark Dabrowski, CEO of the Northwest Asset Transporters, said there are several facilities along the Lake Minnetonka estuary where marine waste can be hauled and disassembled.
Problems occur when the pressure is too high, he said, causing the bags to break.
Dayton spokesman Joel Voss said that the governor’s proposed plastic waste bill targets the growing problem of plastic waste in the lake and the flooding of more debris such as fishing line and plastic pipe following heavy rains last summer that affected several lakes in the western half of the state.
He said officials spent this week working on the bill to address a variety of issues. Among those are the need to permanently fill in the large basins along Lake Minnetonka—lines that some state attorneys general have filed lawsuits on—and the need to find a solution for expanding the “onstream” system that sends trash from commercial waste processors into the lake.
The state spends about $90 million a year on onstream trash systems that have been shut down recently because the volume of garbage coming into them isn’t enough. A report by Rep. Russ Stark, DFL-Duluth, this year revealed that more than one-third of the state’s overall waste is covered by plastic-based garbage systems that are not permanent.
The onstream system directs garbage from commercial and residential trash processors into a network of e-waste recycling facilities that are either destroyed or hauled out for disposal.
Voss said taking on those responsibilities won’t cost anything.
About 70 percent of the garbage that picks up is recycled, he said.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety, on the other hand, is on a hiring spree for accountants, staff and other staffers.
And Dayton said the state’s Department of Natural Resources has been spending its current budget on transitioning its management practices toward alternative methods of recycling.
Dabrowski said he plans to hire several new people to work on onstream waste.
“We will provide a permanent backstop system for a lot of these waste,” he said.