RICE: Vote wasn’t against recycling or single stream


I have been recycling in my private engineering life for over 30 years. I have worked to recycle materials such as cyclohexanone, methyl ethyl ketone, polyethylene terephthalate, truckloads of paper, cardboard, waste polyethylene and polystyrene for Big Stone power plant fuel, chemical formulation changes to prevent waste, plastic cartridge recycling and working to target zero waste manufacturing visiting facilities in Wisconsin, Indiana, Tennessee, Japan, Great Britain, France, China and Germany.

My vote was not against recycling, single stream recycling or Millennium recycle company.

READ Council approves switch to single-stream recycling

My vote was against the city running and expanding and thinking they can run a recycling business better than private enterprise.

The current recycle company is providing a service but has customer service issues. I don’t believe that thinking can be disputed. Complaints have not been adequately addressed.

Currently the city pays approximately $285,000 per year to have a private company collect curbside (blue bin) and commercial account materials for recycling per their contract. City numbers show the private company picks up an average of 1,200 tons of recyclables per year. Four-hundred tons are from the blue bins and 800 tons are from the commercial accounts. There are approximately 75 commercial office accounts for paper recycling and approximately 60 commercial accounts for cardboard recycling. All the office and commercial accounts are picked up at no additional charge by the current private company based on information provided to me.

The city single stream operation will only pick up residential accounts at the same cost of approximately $285,000. The city will not pick up any office or commercial accounts. The city says they will work with local private waste haulers to work with private businesses for the collection of the paper and cardboard. I have my doubts local private waste haulers will do this for no charge.

So, we have 1,200 tons (400+800) picked up today for $285,000 which is $237.50 per ton.

The city will pick up 400 tons and say they can double that because single stream is easier. That is 800 tons for $285,000 which is $356.25 per ton.

The city will also add two new city employees and spend $1 million in capital expenses for trucks, bins and transfer station upgrades that will have continuing maintenance costs.

What happens if current commercial accounts don’t want to pay to have their paper or cardboard picked up? The material will need to be recycled or landfilled somehow, but it will be additional dollars above the $285,000 the city is spending for single stream recycling.

READ With 26 percent of Mitchell residents recycling, city dump lifespan diminishing

Another concern with the city recycling program is we charge everyone and don’t offer everyone the service of recycling. Do you know of any private business that charges you and doesn’t offer any service? Some apartment dwellers have the $4 recycle billed and no blue bin recycling is made available. We need to address this.

I was hoping the city would try and find private businesses that would be interested in establishing a transfer station in Mitchell using single stream recycling. Apparently our local waste haulers were not interested. There are at least 15 private waste haulers in Sioux Falls. Did we inquire if any of them were interested?

Instead of having the difficult conversations with the owner of the current provider to address complaints, we jumped to: “I am from the Government and know best about how to run a recycle business. The cost per ton, commercial material, bin size and total material diverted from the landfill are not an issue. We will figure it out later.”

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