Recycling in Minot… Where’s it at?

In case you didn’t know, the City of Minot had a plan to begin recycling this year.

The first phase of the plan was automated garbage pick-up; that got done last summer.

The second phase was building a transfer station at a cost of about $2.5 million; that was scheduled to begin about now.

The third phase was to distribute another cart and begin picking up recyclable material one day a week instead of trash. And the final part of the plan — after we picked it up your recyclables, we’d take it to our new transfer station, transfer it to a semi, and haul to Minneapolis where it could be sorted and recycled.

Had that plan been delivered as originally approved, recycling pick-up would have started late summer or fall.

But that’s not what we’re doing because last September those of us on City Council called an audible. During the budget meetings, we removed the $2,250,000 for the transfer station construction from the 2018 budget. In essence, we pulled the funding for the plan in the near term.

Why? I won’t speak for other Council members, but my comments at the time reflected concerns about the plan’s financial feasibility. It was hard for me then — knowing full well about the property tax notices all of you would be getting (and have now gotten) — to look forward and justify the spending $2.5 million on a plan to haul what-used-to-be-garbage to Minneapolis. And the $2.5 million is just the first bill. After we build the transfer station, we’ll have to come up with the estimated $400k per year in annual hauling costs.

So, the money was one of the big reasons for me. Another was the plan itself. Call me crazy or any other name you want, but I have a hard time seeing — no matter what anyone tells me — how hauling what-used-to-be-garbage 500 miles across the prairie makes Minot a shining beacon of environmental stewardship. Frankly, hauling garbage long distances strikes me as stupid, and I’d guess it cancels out a lot of the environmental good work we think we’re accomplishing. I think that’s especially true when we live in a place where one of our relatively-plentiful resources is a place to put it.

What you may find ironic is that I do support recycling. I do think we — even the few of us out here in Western North Dakota — need to be better stewards of the environment. But I don’t think we as a community have an appetite for environmentalism at any cost. And I’m 100% positive Minot residents have had their fill of questionable decisions from their local government.

Ultimately, it was a combination of all these reasons that contributed to slowing down the implementation of our plan. But our current situation has left many wondering where we go from here with regards to recycling?

That’s a fair question. I think the first thing we have to acknowledge is that recycling is a money pit. Said again in different words — recycling does not make money; recycling — however we do it — is going to cost us money. Or put in yet different words, recycling will cost us more money than simply landfilling our waste.

Once we acknowledge that recycling is going to cost us money, our next concern — if we support recycling and want our community to participate in it — becomes how do we ensure we’re getting the best return on the dollars we spend on recycling? Is it hauling to another location? Or is it processing our recyclables locally?

So if you want to know where we’re at in terms of implementing recycling — that’s where. We’re going to do a double check on our original plan and either confirm that it’s still the best plan or explore other options. I expect you’ll see official action on this in some form by City Council in the coming months.

Josh Wolsky

Developer & Writer @TheMinot Voice, Fan of the Souris River, There's a lot to Savor about Minot. Fortunate to be a 'former' City Council member ;)

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