The following are recommendations of the Bismarck Recycling Task Force to the Bismarck City Commission as of March 20, 2009
Members of the Task Force
Members include James Devine, Craig Hammer, Steve Windish, Kent Belland, Barb Owens, Jean Rolandelli, Doc Murphy, Curtis Patzell, Colleen Reinke, Jeff Heintz, Keith Hunke, Galen Bren and City Commissioner Mike Seminary, with Christy Ames and Kelley Richter-Melander assisting. Members represented businesses and residents of the city, as well as city officials.
The Bismarck Recycling Task Force (RTF) was created by the city as a response to a 2008 University of North Dakota (UND) Phone Survey which indicated Bismarck residents wanted more opportunities to recycle. The purpose of the RTF was to formulate recycling recommendations for the Mayor and City Commission’s consideration. While the RTF recognized that it may be beneficial to develop a region-wide recycling program, it did not address that issue. The RTF met twice a month from November 2008 to March 2009 to gather information and consider options.
Who Contributes to the Bismarck Landfill?
The majority of material that goes into the landfill is delivered by commercial haulers who collect waste from outlying communities and from businesses both within and outside of Bismarck. Bismarck residents contribute a lesser, but significant percentage. The RTF considered these numbers as it examined a number of options prior to narrowing its recommendations.
The RTF saw the advantages of increased recycling as:
Implement 2-sort curbside recycling
- Extending the life of Bismarck landfill, thereby saving money for taxpayers and avoid difficult siting issues as long as possible
- Moving Bismarck toward sustainability as it relates to this particular utility
- Developing Bismarck into a destination community
The 2-sort method (recyclables sorted into 2 categories: paper products and all others) was considered the most desirable at this time because it would be more convenient for residents than the drop site recycling trailers, the method is affordable based on regional statistics, local commercial entities can process collected material, employment opportunities would remain within the community, and the program could encourage participation by those served by commercial haulers.
The RTF considered a 1-sort method (all recyclables in one container), which is attractive because of the ease for residents. However, at this time material must be hauled to Minneapolis for sorting. The RTF felt that if future technological advances make 1-sort affordable, the city could convert to 1-sort.
Institute “pay-as-you-throw” plan
Residents would pay for weekly waste pick-up based on the size of the container they have, with 2 or 3 sizes available, and an extra charge for additional bags, including yard waste. This would encourage residents to recycle and compost, because they would save money doing so. Pay-as-you-throw more accurately reflects the costs of landfilling material; those who contribute more to the landfill pay more. The recycling program would be voluntary, using the financial costs of garbage collection as the incentive to participate. The RTF also recommends the city adjust tipping fees to further encourage recycling and accurately reflect the cost of landfill space.
Create a recycling education program for residents
This should be done by the city or the commercial hauler who contracts with the city, or both; education of children and teachers should be included. This must start early and must be comprehensive.
Contract with one or more commercial haulers for recycling program
Curbside recycling will require specialized collection equipment, staff (including the costs associated with injuries), and a sorting and storage facility. The RTF felt this was best done by a commercial hauler as opposed to the city incurring the additional costs. Collection of 2-sort recycling appears to be affordable, based on region-wide information and the willingness of residents to pay for curbside recycling, as expressed in the survey. The city may be able to contract for a percentage of the profits from the recycled material. The RTF felt this option would make it easier to achieve participation from apartment residents and commercial entities, as these are already served by commercial haulers. Increased volumes may allow for recycling additional types of material, such as glass.
Continue with drop site recycling trailers
The number of sites and/or the collection frequency at these sites may decrease, based on city information. Consider having a commercial hauler handle the trailers, with the city continuing to collect grass clippings at the sites.
Immediately implement city recycling
Focus on city buildings and schools; place conspicuous recycle containers at Bismarck events and at properties managed by the city. The city leads by example!
Encourage composting of kitchen and yard waste
This would cut down on the amount of material taken to the landfill and may allow the city to decrease the number of yard waste collection sites. Ordinance review would be necessary with regard to kitchen waste composting.
Track the percentage of residents and business that participate in recycling. Track the amount of recyclables and compostable material removed from the landfill.
The Next Steps
- Analyze the costs of recycling options
- Increase education of the community about the advantages of recycling
- Analyze landfill value and costs
- Involve commercial haulers in the recycling dialogue
- Analyze technological advances in recycling continuously
These recommendations are respectfully submitted by the members of the Bismarck Recycling Task Force.