This is a paid piece from Millennium Recycling

Simplified: It's no secret the items in your recycling bin get a second life in new products, but what may come as a surprise is that more than 90% of what Millennium receives from our recycling bins gets sorted and processed right here in the Midwest, with the remaining 10% being shipped across the country.

Why it matters

  • Recycling supplies many of the raw goods that become the products we use day-to-day. The cardboard boxes you've got saved up to hold future birthday presents or the milk jugs in your fridge or even the benches in your park may have been other things several times over before getting to you.
  • Many of the regional relationships Millennium Recycling has with companies that use recycled materials have been long-lasting, too. For example, Tangent, a recycled poly lumber and plastic board manufacturer in Worthington, Minn., has been working with Millennium for nearly two decades.
  • The regional partners who use Millennium's recycled materials not only keep more items out of the Sioux Falls landfill, but they also create jobs throughout the area.
"We’ve created kind of our own economy, and we support that economy in the Midwest by finding and building relationships, then providing consistent, quality materials for use in their products," President Shannon Dwire said.

Tell me more about where materials from Millennium Recycling end up.

Millennium sorts a variety of recyclable items, and each one has its own path to being re-used.

Here are some quick examples:

  • Aluminum cans go right back into creating more aluminum cans.
  • Glass often goes to Minnesota, where it's made back into more glass bottles. Fun fact: more than 90% of the glass sent out of Millennium Recycling is reused, and glass does not lose its recyclability, so it can be used again and again.
  • Newspaper becomes egg cartons and cup carriers like the ones you might see at a fast food drive-through.
  • Cardboard goes to paper mills that break it down to make paper products and more cardboard.
  • Paper gets turned into "mixed paper grade" that ultimately becomes paperboard in products like tissue boxes or the boxes your macaroni and cheese comes in.
  • Plastics go to a variety of places, including Tangent, which takes things like laundry detergent bottles and milk jugs and creates lumber to be used in playground equipment, park benches and many more things.
"Our goal is to take what used to be thrown away and use it and make something that’s going to last 50 to 100 years," said Dave Schaap, operations director with Tangent.

How can I use more recycled products?

Chances are, you're already using more than you realize.

"People often don't understand most of your mills and packaging are no longer set up to use raw materials," Dwire said. "Recycling has to be the supply for what they make for those items that we use every day."

Dwire also said it's important to pay attention to the packages you're buying to ensure that what you use will be able to be recycled.

You can also help by being sure recyclable items you're using end up back in the recycling bin (and, who knows, might make it back into your home time and time again.)