Nonprofit recycling system in St. Paul, MN ices over
- St. Paul, MN residents are complaining online after some of their recycling has gone weeks without pickup from city alleys, according to the Star Tribune. Some alleys have gone up to three weeks without service.
- Nonprofit Eureka Recycling is now responsible for collecting the city's recyclables, but its trucks will not drive on surfaces deemed too icy. This becomes an issue in city alleys, which the local government does not plow — some alleys are cleared sooner than others.
- An executive from Eureka told the Star Tribune the city needs to consider plowing its own alleys instead of expecting residents to contract it out themselves. "We want people to be able to recycle," Eureka co-president Kate Davenport told the paper.
St. Paul's alleys were a chronic problem last year — officials noted about 100 alleys with continuing weather-related issues. Since the city doesn't do the plowing, thus preventing the recycling trucks from completing their normal pickups, Eureka and city staff came up with an alternative.
A truck drives by an alley and, if it's too dangerous for the truck to drive down, will return later in the day. If the dangerous conditions have not changed, Eureka notifies the city, which then notifies the resident with a postcard, explaining the delay.
If poor conditions still remain, city staff will sand, but not clear, the alley. If problems still persist, the nonprofit and the city will notify residents of alternative arrangements, such as moving recycling carts to the street and out of alleys.
In these scenarios however, residents who do not contract out their own plowing or clearing service could still go weeks without recycling pickup, and based on reports, it appears that the problems of last year have not been wholly resolved. Residents are still unhappy with their recycling service in the city when surfaces freeze over.
Almost exactly a year ago, St. Paul was facing significant problems with recycling that had nothing to do with ice and snow. The city switched from curbside to alley pickup, leading to logistics problems and delayed collections from Eureka — right at the beginning of a 5-year contract — which lead at least one city official to threaten negating the agreement.
St. Paul could experience even more solid waste-related disruption soon, as the city council recently voted to move to a franchised collection system for residential waste. The change could come as soon as October of this year.
Currently there are arrangements for all 15 haulers operating in the city to stay in business, though customers, routes and rates will be coordinated. Haulers are supposed to organize themselves to determine collection rates, not city staff.
- Star Tribune Recycling headaches continue in St. Paul this winter
Follow Cody Boteler on Twitter