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Posted on: February 7, 2018

Council, City weigh options for recycling program

Members of the Minot City Council feel it’s time to study all of the city’s options for recycling. How to complete that process, however, remains unanswered.

Council members have agreed that it’s time for Minot to join the ranks of other cities that have been recycling for years. But what form of recycling program the City should undertake has yet to be determined.

Assistant Public Works Director Jason Sorenson presented a report on recycling to the Committee of the Whole on Jan. 31. Committee members had plenty of questions, which led to a discussion of appropriating money for the city to conduct a full study on recycling options.

“We need to find out what will work in Minot, and that’s going to take some time,” said Mayor Chuck Barney. “It’s not something we can do in the next couple months. We have to do this, but we have to explore it thoroughly and do it right.”

The City has conducted research on recycling in the past.

In 2014, Sorenson said the City conducted an online survey. At least 70% of respondents said they didn’t recycle because the City didn’t have a recycling program.

“The survey showed that there was definitely an interest in recycling in Minot,” Sorenson said. “We’ve been working on parts of it ever since.”

In 2016, the mayor formed a recycling ad hoc committee found strong support for creating some type of recycling in Minot. That research led to Minot beginning garbage collection with automated trucks this past summer. With the trucks being utilized, the next step would be to change from the current twice a week collection to picking up garbage one day and picking up recycling another day.

The City had included $2.25 million to build a recycling transfer facility, but that funding was removed from the 2018 budget by council members. The budget does include $250,000 for design of the transfer facility, and council members could consider using some of that money to fund a recycling study.

Council members, while strongly supporting recycling, voiced concern with finding the appropriate path to recycling.

“I think recycling is absolutely the right thing to do. I want to make sure we’re doing it the most efficient way,” said alderman Stephen Podrygula. “There’s no doubt in my mind we need to move forward with recycling. The question is exactly how. I think we have a lot of the framework in place. I think we’re almost there.”

Other aldermen agreed.

“I completely support recycling. It’s the responsible thing to do, and we need to get a program going as soon as it’s economically feasible,” said alderman Josh Wolsky. “It needs to be a regional concept. Wherever we need to go moving forward, we need to work together with our regional partners. This project is not going to pencil out for us. Recycling is going to cost money. If we choose to do it we have to acknowledge that. My hope in whatever plan gets delivered, is we make the best choices for our community and deliver the most economic feasibility we can.”

“I am absolutely passionate about recycling, and I don’t think we have a choice: We have to do it. But I don’t want to get us locked into a shipping situation that doesn’t benefit the City,” alderman Shannon Straight said.

“Is there a possibility of shipping it by rail? No one is doing it because there is no unloading facility in Minneapolis. Could we bring truckloads to Minot, where we can use our now certified railroad site to load this material and send it to somewhere like Minneapolis or Seattle? This is a very high priority for me moving forward,” said alderman Shaun Sipma.

Sorenson said the next step for him and his staff is to start the process of looking for a consultant to assist the City with a feasibility study that would break down the cost/benefit ratios of recycling options.

Those options could include building a transfer facility, which would load and ship recyclables to sorting facilities in locations such as Fargo or Minneapolis. Another option could be to build a materials recovering facility, where recyclables would be sorted in Minot, then shipped elsewhere to end users.

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