Sorting out the options; County could seek single-sort bids to gauge cost

Published 11:05 am Monday, May 11, 2015

The Mower County board will likely seek more information before deciding whether to switch to single-sort recycling or keep its current, sorted system.

At its 8:30 a.m. Tuesday board meeting, the county is expected to seek out bids for the potential single-sort recycling change to get a better idea of costs before making a decision.

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; however, the cost to the county and residents could be a deciding factor.

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The county first discussed single-sort last year and revived talks this year as the board sought ways to encourage residents to recycle and to keep more trash out of landfills.

It appears single-sort is doing just that in Freeborn County.

Mower County board Chairman Mike Ankeny said at an April meeting that Freeborn saw recycling increase by 75 percent in its first year of single-sort. Freeborn had seen an additional 10 percent increase in recycling so far in the second year, according to Ankeny.

However, questions remain for Mower’s board about the cost and potential pickup bids.

Currently, all Mower 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.

The current curbside recycling pickup is only available for residents and businesses within the cities of Austin, Mapleview, Adams, Brownsdale, Grand Meadow and LeRoy. But residents must sort recyclables into separate bins for newspapers, cans and glass, and plastics.

There is no rural pickup.

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

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.

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.

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.

Tuesday’s 8:30 a.m. board meeting will be held in the board room in the basement of the Mower County Government Center.