Why I Will Vote In Favor Of Single-Stream Recycling For Yankton

Single-stream recycling could be making its way to Yankton in the next year.
Tomorrow (Monday), the Yankton City Commission will consider whether it wants to direct staff to implement a plan to have single-stream recycling up and running by spring 2017.
singlestreamrecyclingMy intention is to vote in favor of proceeding.
Single-stream recycling is one of the most common requests I hear from people of all ages in our community. And, while I will concede that various studies of recycling have shown that single-stream may not provide all the benefits we would hope for, I believe it will have a net benefit for our community.
1) Many City of Yankton residents I’ve spoken with want the simplicity of single-stream recycling.
2) It will help with community aesthetics, because each City of Yankton residence that is on the solid waste curbside collection list would receive a black 95-gallon garbage roll cart and a red 95-gallon single-stream recycle roll cart. (Black and red equals the Yankton High School colors, which is pretty cool!) Plus, the lids are attached to the carts – so they won’t blow away!
3) Because of the standardized roll carts for garbage and recycling, our collection trucks will be outfitted with automated tippers. Our employees will simply roll the carts up to the tipper, and it will lift and dump the contents. This will reduce the chance of injury to our staff.
4) We are doing our best to keep the added cost of this service to a minimum. For example, we hope that a South Dakota Solid Waste Management Program grant will cover part of the cost of purchasing the new roll carts. At most, we are estimating a $2.54 monthly rate increase. But we may be able to get it as low as $1.52 per month.
5) Some of our neighbors in the state already have single-stream recycling, such as Brookings, Watertown and Pierre. Those services aren’t necessarily the same as what we’re proposing. For example, Pierre residents pay a commercial collector $8 per month for single-stream recycling.
The City of Watertown converted from dual-stream recycling to single-stream recycling between 2012 and 2013. The City’s 2013 single stream recycle collection of 645 tons was 59 percent higher than the dual stream recycle tonnage collected in 2012. Tan 95-gallon recycle carts are available for residents to use.
Here is an excerpt from a July 2015 Brookings Register story about single-stream recycling in that community:

Key to gaining more participants has been the iconic blue recycling bins beside the regular garbage bins [according to Todd Langland, the director of solid waste management at the Brookings Regional Landfill]. The recycling bins were introduced in 2013 and helped the landfill automate the collection process, reducing time and labor requirements. “At that time, before the carts started, we figure we had 65 percent of our residential customers recycling, which is a very good number. The national average right now is anywhere from 45 to 65 as we speak,” Langland said. “We implemented the carts and after one full year on that cart system, we went from 52 tons a month to 68. We saw a big increase and a big increase in participation.”

I happened to blog about the possibility of Brookings being a model for Yankton in 2012. Read here.
Our staff, including City Manager Amy Nelson and Public Works Director Adam Haberman, have put a lot of thought and effort into developing a proposal. In addition, they have gone to great lengths to address the concerns of our partners in the Vermillion/Yankton Joint Powers Solid Waste Management System (through which we not only own and manage a landfill but also currently do our recycling). Granted, Vermillion is still worried about the impact a Yankton move to single-stream recycling could have upon the Joint Powers, as expressed in a recent discussion and resolution. However, they have said they will not prevent us from implementing this new program. I appreciate that and respect their perspective on the matter.
But, when it comes down to it, the more we can recycle, the better. That will almost certainly be the result for Yankton, so let’s do this!
If you’d like to read more about the recycling proposal, click here and scroll to page 99.
If you want to voice your support for or against the proposal, the City Commission meets at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Technical Education Center.