Shredded paper, magazines and waxy covered milk cartons are examples of wishful recycling at local recycling centers, according to Caleb Anderson, Land and Resources Manager for the Pine County Planning, Zoning and Solid Waste Department. He said when residents attempt to recycle items that are not acceptable, it creates extra work and costs for staff to separate the items. 

The current Recycling Center located in Sandstone replaces the site that was operated by Pine Habilitation and Supported Employment, Inc. (PHASE). The new contractor for the Pine County recycling sites is Cloquet Riverside Recycling, a long time family owned business in Cloquet.

Anderson said the transition happened quickly. The county signed a one year contract with the City of Sandstone for the current location. Anderson said he hopes residents follow the recycling guidelines to help keep the new site viable.

At one point there were 11 unstaffed recycling sheds spread throughout Pine County. They were slowly closed over the years because people dumped garbage, including tires at the sites. The county paid to get rid of the garbage and it became too costly to keep them open. 

Two residential only transfer stations (no dump trucks) opened in 2019 in response to the large amount of garbage dumped at the previous recycling sheds, said Anderson.

Saturday is the busiest recycling day, according to Pete Joseph, recycling attendant at North Pine Recycling Center & Transfer Station in Willow River. He said they accept scrap metal free of charge and items such as furniture, tires, appliances, construction demolition and household garbage for a fee. 

“Residents are really getting into recycling now,” Joseph said.

Pine County has room for improvement. Residents recycled 7,981 tons or 27.5 percent of the total waste generated in 2017, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The following year dropped to 6,880 tons of recycling or 26.1 percent of total generated waste in Pine County.

Carlton County dropped from 6,386 tons of recycled materials in 2017 to 6,234 in 2018.

Overall Minnesota has a recycling rate of 46 percent in 2018, according to the MPCA.

Visit for a current list of accepted recycling items at the Pine County recycling locations.


Accepting Household Recyclables

Pine City -South Pine Transfer Station, 17350 Henriette Rd, Pine City Open Tues, Thurs 10 a.m. -4 p.m., Sat 9 a.m. - 3 pm.

Hinckley - Hinckley Transfer Station, 33198 Co Hwy 61, Hinckley. Open Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m.-noon

Sandstone - Recycling Center, 145 Robin Street, Sandstone, MN 55072. Open Tues, Thurs 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. , Sat 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Willow River - North Pine Transfer Station, 85174 Co Hwy 61, Willow River Open Tues, Thurs 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Sat 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Finlayson - Recycling Shed behind The Municipal Liquor Store

Bruno - Recycling Shed at the Pine County Highway Garage, East Side Of Bruno

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