County gets update on possible switch to single-sort recycling

Published 10:09 am Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The county board isn’t ready to make a decision regarding a possible switch to single-sort recycling yet, but commissioners are hearing good things about it from the county’s neighbors.

County officials heard a short update at Tuesday’s meeting about the issue as the solid waste committee fine-tunes requirements for waste collectors who bid on the potential single-sort system.

Though the board still hasn’t voted on whether to switch to single-sort recycling or keep its current curbside pickup method, commissioners have heard positive reviews of single-sort.

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One key goal is to encourage residents to recycle and to keep more to keep trash out of landfills, and it appears single-sort is doing just that in Freeborn County.

“They saw a 75 percent increase in recycling over the first year,” said board Chairman Mike Ankeny, referencing a recent meeting he attended where Freeborn officials talked about the program’s success. The county has also seen an additional 10 percent increase in recycling so far in the second year, according to Ankeny.

Currently, curbside recycling pickup is only available for residents and businesses within the cities of Austin, Mapleview, Adams, Brownsdale, Grand Meadow and LeRoy. There is no rural pickup. A switch to single-sort recycling would bring residential pickup countywide — including to rural residences. Rural residents can currently sort their recyclables and drop them off at the recycling center.

On Tuesday, commissioners briefly discussed a plan for less frequent rural pickup, but dismissed it in favor of all residents getting the same service.

“This is one package for all,” Ankeny said.

Freeborn is not collecting recycling in rural areas; however, there are drop boxes in small towns. Under Mower’s proposed plan, current recycling drop boxes would be removed.

In recent meetings, commissioners have spoke favorable of residential single-sort pickup. Commissioners have also said the majority of public feedback has been in support of single-sort.

However, some questions remain about the cost and potential pickup bids.

Currently, all residential properties pay $16 to $18 a year for curbside recycling as part of county property taxes, whether they recycle or not. The single-sort fee would also come off property taxes, but it would cost an estimated $4.25 to $5 a month — $51 to $60 a year.

If the county switched to single-sort, businesses would not be included; however, commissioners want bidding waste contractors to offer recycling plans that businesses can purchase.

The board would also need to decide whether to include apartments and senior housing complexes in the single-sort plan.

With single-sort recycling, each residence in the county would likely receive a trash receptacle for recycling — possibly a 65-gallon containers — and all recyclables would be collected in one container and later sorted at a recycling facility.

County urges proper use at recycling drops

As the county board discusses a possible switch to single-sort recycling, it reminded residents to use at current recycling drop boxes correctly.

The board is sending a letter to small town leaders explaining the rules and regulations after several instances of garbage being dumped in the recycling drop boxes in small towns.