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No-sort recycling to debut in April

Waste Management will provide each West Fargo household with a 96-gallon tote to dump recycling materials, including plastic, cardboard, paper, aluminum, tin, glass and magazines. Photo by Wendy Reuer

Starting in April, West Fargo residents will be able to throw all their recyclables into a 96-gallon bin and the city will pick it up every other week.

The City Commission unanimously agreed on Monday to contract with Twin Cities based Waste Management to start a no-sort recycling program in the city in April.

Waste Management will provide each West Fargo household a 96-gallon tote to dump recycling materials that include plastic, cardboard, paper, aluminum, tin, glass and magazines without sorting.

City Public Works director Chris Brungardt said the recycling program is needed in the city that currently dumps its waste in the Fargo landfill.

The city will pick up the $440,000 tab in the first year of the recycling program, from April 2015 to January 2016. After the first year, recycling would cost each household about $3.37 per month, a utility fee that will automatically be billed to each household.

“You’re paying for the service one way or another, might as well use it,” Brungardt said.

Residents do not currently have a high recycling rate.

“Historically, West Fargo, we’ve been recycling about 2 percent of our waste stream,” Brungardt said. “The national average is 35 (percent),”

Since West Fargo pays for what it dumps in the landfill, offering an easy recycling program is meant to encourage recycling, which will in turn save the city money, he said.

About 9,300 households now recycle about 2,100 tons each year in West Fargo. For each ton not taken to the landfill, it saves the city about $55.

Waste management initially asked the city to sign a 10-year contract for recycling services but after the city tabled the issue at its last commission meeting, Waste Management returned with a six-year contract that has an option to renew for three years after, which was approved on Monday.

Mayor Rich Mattern said he was undecided if the program should provide 64 gallon totes or 96 gallon totes for 5 cents more.

“I live in Horace and I have a family of four and it fills up every two weeks,” said John Mcintosh. Horace has had no sort recycling since 2009. “You’ll find you’ll recycle more than you’re going to throw away.”

Waste Management spokesman Paul Kalibabky said a 64-gallon bin, the size initially proposed for the program would be able to fit most household needs and two can be given to residents. The footprint, or space needed for storage, of the two bins is very close.

“I would say if we’re really trying to send a message, [to recycle more] then a bigger bin may be the way to go,” Brungardt said.

West Fargo’s current recycling program picked up only tin or aluminum, and paper and glass items must be sorted by material.

Fargo and Moorhead also have sort recycling programs but Fargo is considering a partnership with Minnkota Recycling if a pilot program can be developed.

The project would determine whether Minnkota could properly separate the mixed recyclables and whether the increase in income from the recycling would cover the costs of starting and running Fargo’s operation.

Estimates of Fargo’s initial capital cost are $1.75 million to $2 million for carts and automated trucks for a community-wide program, according to a Fargo city memo.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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