Waste management faces North Dakota-specific problems

BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) The North Dakota Department of Health says, compared to other states, North Dakota faces certain challenges when it comes to waste management but that doesn't mean individuals can't do their part in making a difference.

That's according to Chuck Hyatt, the director of Waste Management.

Hyatt says that factors such as relatively low population and far distances between cities and towns makes state-wide recycling programs more difficult to impose.

One way to reduce waste is to increase recycling. Hyatt says, there are impediments when it comes to enforcing a single recycling program across the state. "It is a challenge of our geography that we're trying to improve through education, through creating markets. But in the mean time, some of that material that could be recycled does unfortunately end up being thrown away," Hyatt says.

Waste ends up in landfills, which if not properly managed, can impact the environment in a number of ways, including contaminating water sources, degrading the usability of land, and affecting air quality, Hyatt explains.

Jim Collins, an environmental scientist and president of Keep North Dakota Green, says there are ways for individuals to combat this problem. "Take the time, recycle your waste. The city of Bismarck has a recycling program, participate. Just do something. Do that one thing that takes the first step."

Collins says one small step can make a big impact.