DAC director named Recycler of the Year
By Jean Ruzickajruzicka@parkrapidsenterprise.com Hubbard County DAC director Ed Ranson has received the Recycler of the Year award from the Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM). The award was presented at the recent annual RAM conference in B...
By Jean Ruzicka
Hubbard County DAC director Ed Ranson has received the Recycler of the Year award from the Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM).
The award was presented at the recent annual RAM conference in Bloomington, recognizing “exceptional service by individuals or recent programs contributing to the betterment of recycling or other resource conservation efforts in Minnesota,” said Brita Sailer, executive director of policy and outreach for RAM.
“Ranson is a long-time staunch and effective supporter of recycling and reuse in the Hubbard County area,” Sailer said.
“What began at the Developmental Achievement Center in 1984 as a work project for a young man with mental retardation to collect and redeem aluminum cans has become a full-service, countywide program to reduce, reuse and recycle,” said Linda Hanson, administrative assistant with the Hubbard County DAC.
Hanson and Sandy Gunderson of Becker County’s Solid Waste Department collaborated in drafting the nomination. Gunderson received an RAM award last year.
Ranson, who is retiring next spring, was unaware his name was being thrown into the hat, he said.
Soon after the can collection began, the DAC entered a long-term partnership with Hubbard County Solid Waste Department to introduce recycling to Hubbard County residents on a larger scale, the nomination states.
“From the humble beginning of one wall-mounted, hand-operated, can crusher, the DAC and the Solid Waste (Department) have become leaders in recycling and pollution prevention.” This “while providing significant employment opportunities for many Hubbard County residents with disabilities,” Hanson stated in the nomination.
In 2013 the center recycled:
n 3,117,630 pounds of cardboard;
n 894,227 pounds of newspaper;
n 156,602 pounds of office paper;
n 302,619 pounds of electronics;
n 128,222 pounds of tin;
n 145,823 pounds of plastics;
n 848,991 pounds of glass;
n 218,949 pounds of textiles (clothing & shoes) and
n 81,063 pounds of aluminum.
Over the past 13 years the DAC has expanded recycling to operating Bearly Used Thrift Store, The Tin Ceiling and the DAC Salvage Depot in Park Rapids.
Disabled adults sort, price and sell recycled goods and materials. These stores and the recycling center provide employment opportunities for 107 adults with disabilities.
The newest thrift store, the DAC Salvage Depot, has been successful in recycling used windows, doors, building materials, furniture, washers, dryers and many other salvageable materials.
The DAC recycling ventures are referred to by Ranson as “vertical integration.” Through the recycling center, the DAC collects, sorts, processes and sells recycled materials. It runs the thrift stores where donated items are repaired, cleaned and sold retail.
Finally, usable materials are sent to the DAC workshop where disabled adults make them into items for sale.
For example, recycled jeans are cleaned and torn into strips to be woven into rugs.
“The stable, long-term commitment of Ranson, DAC executive director since 1983, has contributed to the success of these recycling projects,” the nomination states.
The recycling efforts initiated by Ranson benefit the environment by keeping forests, roadsides, lakes and streams clean.
“The projects also provide strong economic benefits to the community through convenience to the residents, multiple benefits to the county in meeting both the waste management and social service needs, and innovative features to get added value out of the recycled materials. These all contribute to the economic efficiency of the recycling projects,” the nomination states.
One of the chief benefits of the recycling projects is somewhat out of the ordinary - the large-scale employment of people with disabilities in Hubbard County. The public’s need to dispose of solid waste provides jobs.
“The clients of the DAC are reliable and hardworking,” the nomination points out. “They earn significant wages and take pride in their work. An additional benefit is community visibility. DAC client involvement in recycling and the thrift stores create a high level of community awareness and community pride in the recycling effort.
“Hubbard County residents clearly take interest and ownership in a system that does well by providing jobs to some of the county’s most disadvantaged people,” Ranson’s nomination states.
Ranson has a PhD in psychology from the University of California at Berkley. He is a licensed psychologist, “which certainly indicates his interest in and professional commitment to helping people. He is easy to talk to, and he is well liked by his clients, his staff and his colleagues.
“Many would describe Ed as ‘the ‘salt of the earth,’ someone who is dependable, honest, hard working and always gives his best, whose continual accomplishments depict his compassion and warm hearted ways,” his nominators concluded.
Last year’s Recycler of the Year award winner was Lydell Newby, facilities director for the Mall of America.
Western Lake Superior Sanitary District earned this year’s Green Project Award for its innovative and successful organics collection program.
Michael Reed with Ramsey County Environmental Health and current vice-chair of RAM received the Denise Kolar Award, which honors a member of RAM who has devoted energy, good will and effort to benefit the organization.
The Public Service Award, recognizing an elected official who has demonstrated outstanding service for the betterment of recycling and the environment, went to Rep. Frank Hornstein, Minneapolis.