Open Saint Paul: How can the City of Saint Paul increase the level of recycling, both in materials and number of people recycling?


The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s new recycling goals call for reducing the amount of trash headed to landfills by 75% by 2030. However, in recent years, the level of recycling and participation in the citywide recycling program has declined or remained flat. The City of Saint Paul is committed to keeping recyclable and compostable materials out of our landfills by making our recycling services user friendly and cost-effective.

We want to hear your ideas on how to increase the level of recycling, both in materials and number of people recycling. In other words, what would make recycling more materials easier for you, and what, if anything prevents you from recycling?

Context of the project

The City of Saint Paul is committed to finding new ways to address barriers to participation and to capture the recyclable and compostable materials that still remain in the trash. To ensure a well-informed, financially and environmentally responsible decision, the City of Saint Paul is conducting an 8-10 month assessment process.

The City will gather input from the community and key stakeholders regarding recycling and waste management services (recycling, composting, bulky waste, litter and garbage issues). The information gathered through this process will help determine program initiatives and services for the next decade. We will utilize a variety of assessment tools including surveys (written, phone, and online), focus groups, social media; Open Saint Paul (this online comment tool), key stakeholder interviews, and community meetings.


For over 24 years, the City of Saint Paul and its partners have provided a high quality, innovative and cost-effective curbside recycling program for Saint Paul residents. The program has evolved over time and added services to multi-family residents, increased the list of acceptable items, opened a permanent recycling drop off center as well as provided exceptional educational materials. However, the recycling industry’s technology is changing rapidly, and the industry can now process a wider range of materials. Saint Paul’s Municipal recycling and waste management programs must adjust and take advantage of new technologies and innovation.


From Benita Warns inside Ward 4:

People who use their own food waste for backyard composting should not be mandated to pay for a service that they do not need. The only way they should have to pay is if they have access to the finished product of the food waste recycling process. Why should backyard composters be forced to pay to have food waste hauled away from other households and then the recycling company can sell the finished product and reap the financial benefit? If residents are forced to pay, then any money raised from sales should go back to the residents or used to offset the cost of the program. No company or non-profit should gain at our expense.

As for putting our recycle bins on one side of the street - that is worth looking at. I would support a pilot project for this.

I also believe that access to reuse items brought to our neighborhood cleanups should be given to St. Paul businesses that pay taxes. There are local second-hand dealers and small engine repair places that should get first crack at this stuff. Currently the district councils get to choose their vendors, based on who they like, rather than an open process to allow equal access for all interested vendors. If multiple vendors are interested in participating, then the City should conduct a lottery. Why should St. Paul businesses be closed off from access to these items, since the cleanups are paid for with the taxes paid by these businesses?

From Margaret Jones inside Ward 1:

During a recent trip to Oakland, California I discovered that residents are allowed to combine all of their recycling in one large bin (same size as a garbage can and blue) and wheel it to the curb. This includes all types of plastic.

They also collect compostable items at the curb in the same fashion.

We recycle everything and compost (except for the dead of winter). I don't mind hauling my bins to the curb, in fact I even take my recycling home from the office, but anything we can do to make this easier for more people, the better!

Thanks for listening!

BTW... Another neighbor suggested we place all recylcing on one side of the street instead of both sides to reduce the amount of emissions by the trucks. Maybe we could do a pilot?

Read more statements here.


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Why doesn't St Paul do what so many other cities do by using one large recycling container on wheels.  Current system doesn't work well when I was putting containers out the recycling company would sort out what they wanted an leave balance on curb! Picking up after them an looking at mess has caused me not to recycle.  I lived in Brooklyn park an recycled weekly for 13 years St Paul makes it difficult.