Composting to Reduce Waste

Acreage Owners Guide

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Living on a few acres puts added responsibility on how people handle waste materials. Many of the conveniences associated with waste removal and recycling in urban settings are not always available in the country. In the past, rural residents took care of their own waste by putting it in a dump site on their property. This practice is now prohibited in Nebraska and heavy fines can be incurred if anyone is found with an open dump site. Using local licensed dump sites and available services as well as recycling is imperative for acreage and rural residents.

Recycling Plastics: The plastic industry has responded to the problem of recycling by developing a series of cryptic markers, commonly seen on the bottom of plastic containers. Separate plastics accordingly.

Glass and Metals: Glass, steel (or " tin" ) and aluminum are easy to recognize and recycle. Separate glass according to its color. Not all glass can be recycled. Glass found in light bulbs, cookware and windows can't be recycled because ceramics were added to the glass when it was made.

Paper: Most types of paper can be recycled. Newspapers have been recycled profitably for decades.

Compost: Food and yard scraps placed in a special bin are converted into a valuable garden soil amendment in a matter of weeks. Composting can easily reduce by half the volume of yard waste and kitchen vegetable waste a household sends to a landfill.

Household Toxic Materials: Items such as poisons, paints, oil, solvents, automotive fluids, cleaners, pesticides and many others must not be dumped into the garbage. The best thing to do is use what you buy and buy only what you need.

Household and Vehicle Batteries: Dry cell batteries contribute about 88 percent of the total mercury and 50 percent of the cadmium in the municipal solid waste stream. Recycle waste batteries if possible.

Vehicle batteries are banned from disposal in Nebraska landfills. To reduce waste, buy longer-life batteries that may result in fewer batteries to recycle.

Household Appliances and Tires: Land disposal of discarded household appliances, such as refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, stoves, furnaces and water heaters is prohibited. Tires are restricted from landfills as they are not easily compacted, do not decompose readily, consume space and, due to the hollow shape, trap air and other gases in the tires.

Open Burning: An increasing number of wildfires resulting from careless open burning has prompted regulation of this activity. Persons who wish to do some open burning must secure a burning permit from the fire chief who has jurisdiction in their area. Burning trash in an approved incinerator or burning barrel with a safety top screen is not classified as open burning; therefore, no permit is required for this activity.

Information Sources:

  • Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department at 402-441-8040 (Lancaster County Residents)
  • Keep Lincoln-Lancaster County Beautiful 402-441-8035 (Lancaster County Residents)
  • Nebraska State Recycling Association 800-248-7328
  • Keep Nebraska Beautiful Affiliates 402-486-4562
  • EPA Hazardous Waste Hotline (spills) 800-424-9346
  • Chemicals Referral Center 800-262-8200
  • Steel Can Recycling Institute 800-876-SCRI


Need Additional Information? Visit What you need to know as a Nebraska landowner

Source: Adapted for Lancaster County, Nebraska from A Place in the Country: The Acreage Owner's Guide (EC97-2506C).