Change to St. Paul's recycling starts this week

Life goes on
Recycling rules in St. Paul change this week, along with the weather
Euan Kerr/MPR News file photo

Starting Monday, St. Paul residents will be able to put all their recyclables together in one bin for curbside pickup. City officials say they hope it boosts recycling, which has stagnated in recent years.

• Guidelines: What to recycle — and how to sort — in St. Paul

"A single-sort system will make it easier for residents to participate in the program," said St. Paul Environmental Policy Director Anne Hunt.

Under the old dual system, residents separated drink containers and paper. Officials estimate half of all city residents recycled, but only about 20 percent of recyclable materials were saved from going to landfills.

A study and city survey found that residents said they would be more likely to participate in a simpler, easier recycling program.

"They've got hectic lives, they might have two jobs, a single-parent household," Hunt said. "They wanted it more convenient."

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The St. Paul City Council approved a resolution on March 26 that set the goal of increasing recycling, with the target of diverting 80 percent of all recyclable or organic waste from landfills by 2030.

Residents should put recycling in the traditional blue bins or paper bags until wheeled, lidded recycling containers are delivered in the spring of 2015.

• Schedule: What day does your neighborhood recycle?

St. Paul is also expanding the types of plastics that can be recycled, by now accepting plastics like deli containers and shampoo bottles. About the only recyclables the city doesn't want are materials like PVC pipes or styrofoam trays.

The city's switch to single-sort recycling comes on the heels of similar changes in cities like Minneapolis and Roseville. Early results from Minneapolis show that the single-sort program succeeded in getting more people to recycle.

Minneapolis saves with single-sort recycling

St. Paul's single-sort is program will cost residents a bit more because sorting through the larger amount of materials is more labor intensive. A single-family home will be charged $51.91 this year, as opposed to $38.78 in 2013. That charge is added to property taxes.

By recycling more, Hunt said, the city may also see a bump in revenues. The city earned more than $100,000 from contractor Eureka Recycling last year, which Hunt said helps keep costs down.