ST. PAUL NOTES | Trash talking in St. Paul

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From bottle deposits to curbside composting, trash is a hot topic in St. Paul.

Minnesota legislators are talking about requiring a ten cent deposit on bottles and cans to encourage recycling. The Star Tribune reports that, according to an MPCA study,

“A proposed 10-cent fee for bottles, cans and other beverage containers would boost Minnesota’s recycling volume by some 1.9 billion containers per year but could also saddle consumers or beverage firms with $29 million in new costs as beverage prices rise.”

According to the Strib article, proponents say that a 10-cent bottle and can deposit would raise $469 in revenue and create more than a thousand jobs, while opponents say it would be a hardship for retailers, raise the price of beverages, and take bottles and cans out of the recycling stream.

Recycling is the crux of the issue: The Minnesota Idea Open site says that Minnesotans throw away an average of 142,000 tons of beverage containers each year.

Meanwhile, in the city of St. Paul, there are changes ahead for recycling. A call for comments last March drew lots of input at Open St. Paul, with recommendations from commenters for changes to increase recycling and to make recycling easier.

A city-commissioned report from the Wilder Foundation found:

“Most Saint Paul residents would like a single-sort recycling system that accepts more plastics, a curbside or alley collection system for organic waste, and more convenient disposal options for their unwanted bulky items like furniture and appliances. Two-thirds of residents are willing to pay more for these new services.”

Now St. Paul has big plans for changes in 2014 and subsequent year. In 2014, plans include:

  • Launching single sort recyling collection in April;
  • Expanding plastics recycling to includ all #1, #2 #4, #5, and #7 bottles and containers;
  • Increasing backyard composting education and expanding organics drop-off sites; 
  • Providing more opportunities to reuse and dispose of bulky items like furniture and appliances. 

In 2015, the city plans to convert to a wheeled, covered cart for recycling collection. And some time in 2016 (or later?), curbside organics collection is planned. For a great, colorful explanation, see the attached PDF file.