One of the most overused symbols is the recycling symbol. There is a recycling symbol slapped on almost everything we buy, but whether or not that item can actually be recycled is a different story. The overuse of the recycling symbol has rendered it almost meaningless. Just because a recycling symbol is found on the packaging or the product does not guarantee it will be accepted in a local recycling program.

It is crucial that you know what your local recycling program accepts and stick to the guidelines they provide.

One item that typically has a recycling symbol on it is rechargeable batteries. Despite what this recycling symbol leads you to believe, these batteries cannot be placed in the regular recycling with your bottles and cans. Rechargeable batteries can and must be recycled, but they belong in the household hazardous waste area at the transfer station. They should not be place in your regular garbage or your single sort recycling.

We separate rechargeable batteries from other materials and handle them carefully. If these batteries are handled improperly they can create fires. Some recycling facilities have burned to the ground because of improper recycling.

Our new transfer station had a recent scare. On Wednesday, July 17, we had a fire in our recycling compactor box. We believe the fire was more than likely caused by the improper recycling of a rechargeable battery.

For the safety of everyone involved please follow the county’s recycling guidelines, which can be found at co.hubbard.mn.us/waste. If you have any questions or concerns, email solidwaste@co.hubbard.mn.us or call 218-237-1460.

Laura Wessberg is Hubbard County’s Minnesota GreenCorps volunteer.