Happy new year and happy winter. Oh my, it certainly feels like January out there. I think it gives us bragging rights what a hardy bunch of folks we are living in this Minnesota tundra.
I had a chance to hear famous meteorologist Paul Douglas speak at a conference once where he proclaimed that Minnesota has the Super Bowl of weather each year, as our temperatures reach both hot and cold extremes. Which means our roads and building materials need to be able to expand and contract while remaining safe, functional and last.
So I want to share with everyone a few examples of how we recycle certain items that are used to combat our weather extremes. The first one is that we recycle our asphalt shingles back into road base materials and parking lots. We have also used recycled glass in road base materials on a limited basis, which gives our roads added strength during extreme weather conditions.
Another example is that we take our old latex paint and turn it into a clinker material, which is then mixed in to cement products. This clinker material give the cement added strength and durability depending on its use. This is where the challenges come in with our engineers as they design new products that we use every day and try to plan for end of life or recycling of these new products.
The plastics field is a big area where industry is spending lots of money to find the perfect polymer(s) that are light, yet durable, affordable and recyclable. Our plastic use is expected to increase over 500% in the next twenty years so we really need to come up with some great ideas to handle this on-going waste stream. This is where I like to remind our residents to think globally and act locally and do our best by following current recycling guidelines as it helps keeps the recycling industry efficient and running smoothly.
To shift gears a bit, I want to bring your attention to the four-alarm fire that occurred on Jan. 9 in the Bronx, New York. This fire was started by a rechargeable lithium ion battery from an e bike scooter. Thankfully, no one lost their life but a few Firemen were hurt.
New York had over 100 fires in 2021 due to rechargeable batteries, so I would like to remind our residents of the dangers of all rechargeable batteries, their use, proper storage and handling. Fires can also start with smaller button batteries, which is what happened in a Minnetonka High School library two years ago from an e-cigarette. So the size of these batteries really do not matter when it comes to a thermal run away as the battery releases it energy.
Area residents can recycle their rechargeable batteries at our local household hazardous waste facilities. I also want to remind our residents that they can properly dispose of their old Christmas lights at most city offices, as they have bins set up.
That’s all for now. Enjoy and embrace our Minnesota weather and make every day Earth Day! Thank you.