St. Louis Park residents embrace new recycling program

St. Louis Park officials want to make the city an environmental leader.

St. Louis Park’s revamped recycling programs have been well received by residents, city officials say, with almost 10 percent of residents signing up for organics recycling in the program’s first two months.

The city’s new recycling programs began in October with single-sort recycling and organics waste collection. Because of the cost of organics recycling, residents must pay an extra $40 per year to participate, receiving a cart and a one-year supply of compostable bags.

Despite the additional cost, about 1,150 residents opted to begin organics recycling. While city officials have estimated that 15 to 20 percent of residents would participate, the city’s public works services manager said that goal was set for the end of the program’s first year.

“After just two months, we’re right on track and happy with the numbers,” said Scott Merkley, who supervises recycling for the city. “We’re certainly going to be working to promote the program.”

St. Louis Park uses one hauler for garbage and regular recycling, and another for yard waste and organics recycling. Yard wastes go in the organics waste cart, and organics go into compostable bags that are put in or on the cart.

While garbage is collected each week, recycling is now done every two weeks. Residents got a 90-gallon cart for single-sort recycling to accommodate two weeks’ worth of items as well as new materials that weren’t accepted for recycling before.

Some residents have asked for a smaller recycling cart. Merkley said the city is asking people to use the new carts for 90 days to see how it goes. If they still want a smaller cart after that, the city will give them one.

The larger carts were distributed because other cities that had gone to a single-sort system advised St. Louis Park that it was unwise to start with anything smaller, Merkley said. While he said it’s too soon to measure how much more recycling material is being collected, anecdotal evidence indicates that tonnage has gone up.

On the organics side, residents have been asking to trade their three-gallon compostable bags for 13-gallon bags, Merkley said.

“In both cases, we’re really pleased,” Merkley said. “We have no complaints except for people seeking smaller carts.”

The city now is redoing its recycling waste stations in city facilities, starting with the Rec Center followed by City Hall, police and fire stations and Westwood Hills Nature Center. The new waste stations have containers to hold recycling, organics and garbage. Placed in highly trafficked areas, the stations have bold graphics and print to show what to put where.

Merkley said city officials hope the new stations will make people more thoughtful about what bin they choose when they walk by with an apple core or a pop bottle.

“Residents want to do the right thing, but sometimes they do what’s easiest,” he said. “These have a lot of pictures. We’re trying to give the proper education.”

The city has scheduled two meetings to talk about recycling programs and answer questions. They are on Tuesday, Jan. 28 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 8 from 9 to 11 a.m. Both meetings are in the first-floor community room at City Hall, 5005 Minnetonka Blvd.

 

Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380

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