St. Paul plans to expand and improve its recycling services in 2017, starting with wheeled and lidded carts to replace the currently used tubs, and also collecting food scraps and food-soiled paper.
The city’s Public Works Department announced Thursday that it is seeking bids from companies to provide more convenient recycling services for houses and apartments, city buildings and public spaces.
Contracts for most of the services would be awarded next spring, with the new system to begin by Jan. 1, 2017. A separate contract for organics recycling will be put out for bids next spring.
“We want a high quality program that maximizes the amount of material that gets recycled … at a competitive price,” said Anne Hunt, the city’s environmental policy director.
What that price will be, Hunt couldn’t say Thursday. But she noted that what St. Paul residents now pay for recycling services, currently provided by nonprofit Eureka Recycling of Minneapolis, is on the high end of the metro-area spectrum.
Recycling services would continue to be offered weekly, Hunt said. Most of the carts would hold 64 gallons, with customers having the option of choosing bigger ones (96 gallons, such as those in Minneapolis) or smaller (34 gallons) as needed. Tubs now used hold 18 gallons of recyclables.
Among the other recycling changes planned by the city for 2017: alley collection, where feasible; better service for multifamily residential buildings, including more education and the possible use of dumpsters rather than carts; and more recycling options in public areas such as parks and event centers.
Hunt said that the city expects these changes will result in a 35 percent increase in recycling tons and a 15 percent increase in participation.
Mayor Chris Coleman had hoped this year to introduce the wheeled carts with lids, which in other cities have been credited with bumping up recycling numbers. But to the disappointment of environmental activists, he tabled the plan when Eureka estimated the carts, plus alley service, would increase annual household recycling fees by a third, or about $17.
The Ramsey County Board last summer agreed to cover half the city’s projected $4.7 million cost for wheeled and lidded carts, which would be owned by the city. Ramsey County’s solid-waste master plan seeks to hold cities more responsible for meeting its 75 percent recycling goal by 2030.
St. Paul went to single-sort recycling in 2014, when it also increased the types of plastics that could be recycled. Residents last year recycled nearly 20,000 tons of paper, glass, metals and plastic containers.