The county will only distribute Select Committee on Recycling and the Environment funds in 2020 to cities that offer a dropoff recycling program. It will not provide those funds to cities that previously used the money to reimburse waste haulers for curbside recycling.
Following is how this decision will affect recycling in area cities:
Pequot Lakes does not have a dropoff recycling facility, and the city does require waste haulers to offer curbside recycling in the city.
Pequot Lakes received $10,000 in 2019 and 2017, and $6,500 in 2018 in SCORE funding that the city used to reimburse haulers to offset their recycling costs.
For 2020, this funding was removed from the city’s recycling revenue and expenditures budget.
Licensed haulers in the city cannot charge residents who recycle more than than those who choose not to recycle.
Nisswa operates a dropoff recycling facility behind the fire hall. The city routinely received $45,000 in SCORE funding annually to pay for the cost of services to haul away the materials.
In 2019, the county agreed to Nisswa’s request to increase funding from $45,000 to $68,000, as the costs incurred by the city’s service provider (Waste Partners) were increasing and the city wanted to continue to offer recycling services.
In 2020, the city’s initial funding request was $90,000. The county notified Nisswa that the city would receive $61,200, or 90% of its 2019 funding.
“This leaves a gap of approximately $20,000 that remains unfunded, and either the city of Nisswa has to decrease our services at the recycling center, or we have to increase our levy to pay for the cost to keep our services unchanged from its current level,” City Administrator Jenny Max said.
From 2015-18, the total number of pounds of materials recycled through Nisswa’s dropoff location has increased by more than 80%, including mixed paper, glass, plastic, etc., Max said. As smaller programs within the county have stopped operating, Nisswa has seen an increase in people using its facility, meaning Waste Partners has to empty the dumpsters more frequently, which increases the cost to maintain the program.
“At this time we are exploring any and all viable options for how we can continue our recycling program for the long term,” Max said. “We receive many compliments throughout the year on our dropoff location, and we know that so many people are grateful to have this service.”
One major obstacle, however, is abuse the recycling center is seeing, Max said.
“We regularly deal with items being left that are not recyclable or that are placed in the wrong bin. Any contamination of materials can have the potential to make a lot of other material not recyclable, costing either city staff time to clean up and take nonrecyclable items to the landfill, or costing more money from our service provider to fix at their facility,” she said, noting most of these issues can be corrected simply by knowing what is recyclable and what is not.
Tom Blomer, Nisswa public works supervisor, agreed that the city has seen a definite uptick in the abuse of the recycling facility. He also said in a city council report that Nisswa recycles more cardboard – by a lot – than any other entity in the area, including Home Depot, Cub Foods and any other government sponsored site.
Recycling issues will be discussed with Eric Loge, owner of Waste Partners, at the Nisswa Public Works Committee meeting in November.
“I do know that recycling costs are skyrocketing across the board and programs are becoming increasingly difficult to administer. It has become a situation where everyone – local governments, citizens and service providers – need to work together to come up with a long-term solution,” Max said.
Breezy Point received the following SCORE funding in past years: $16,000 in 2017; $15,600 in 2016; $12,000 in 2015; and $14,226 in 2014.
The city does not have a dropoff recycling facility, and used SCORE funds to reimburse recycling haulers.
“If the county doesn’t fund SCORE, the city will not be ‘passing through funds’ to the haulers,” City Administrator Patrick Wussow said in an email.
Crosslake has a recycling dropoff facility at Crosslake Rolloff. The city expects to receive $26,280 in SCORE funding in 2020. The city received $29,200 per year from 2017-19.
City Administrator Mike Lyonais said the city reimburses its recycling contractor – Crosslake Rolloff – $32,240 per year to run the recycling program. The city pays for any shortfall in funding that SCORE funds don’t cover.