City prepares for 'user friendly' recycling era

Monday, June 28, 2004

The Storm Lake city council passed an ordinance Monday night that establishes unit-based pricing regulations on residentital garbage collection. This ordinance will go into effect on Sept. 1, 2004.

This was passed, city administrator John Call said, to help reduce the amount of garbage going into the Buena Vista County landfill and to increase the amount of recycling the state has mandated its cities to enforce.

"This mandate will require the hauler to charge an additional fee for anything over three 33-gallon containers of garbage per week," Call said. "There won't be limit, within reason, of recyclables under this ordinance."

According to Call, there will be a two-month education period before the new rules go into effect.

Steve Neuroth, owner of Sunshine Services, told the Pilot-Tribune last week how this ordinance would effect the city's garbage hauling.

Sunshine will continue to pick up Storm Lake's garbage on Tuesdays and Thursdays, depending on the resident's neighborhood. Recycling will be picked up on Monday or Friday, again depending on resident's neighborhood, Neuroth said.

Neuroth added that there would be no limit on recyclables, within reason, but his men would not pick up more than three, 33-gallon cans or bags, not to exceed 25 pounds per can or bag. Neuroth said that the bags must be tied at the top and the can, if used, must not exceed level full.

"You may use the equivalent of of three 33-gallon cans or three 33-gallon bags and 75 pounds maximum weight," he said. "This means that if you have 10 grocery -type sacks and they do not exceed either the 33-gallon or the 75 pounds, you are in compliance with the ordinance."

"We're trying to make this user-friendly," Neuroth said. "If you don't have any garbage one week and four or five cans the next, we take that into account. We will be working on average for each household. If you go on vacation or forget one week, and put out four or five bags the next week the haulers usually know pretty well the habits of each resident and will take that into account. But if someone is pushing the limits week after week, then enforcement will follow."

Neuroth said garbage in violation of the ordinance will be left and later checked by the hauler management. The resident will then be notified of ways to correct the violation, he said.

Neuroth said the reason for the ordinance is the county landfill isn't "hitting the percentages the DNR wants us to hit." Neuroth said this wasn't a city or a county ordinance but the state that is mandating that citizens recycle more household waste.

On the recycle day, the hauler must be able to see that all items are indeed recyclables or they will be left for the garbage day, at which time they will be counted toward the residence's garbage limits, Neuroth said.

Larger empty cardboard boxes would be taken as well without the homeowner having to break them down, Neuroth said.

"The resident should take all precautions so the reyclables remain in a dry state," Neuroth said. "This is so they remain valuable when they arrive at the Harold Rowley Sorting and Reycling Center."

Neuroth added that garbage can be in any color bags but that on recycling days the collectors will need to see what's inside.

"People will need to bag recyclables in clear bags or open cans or boxes," he said. "If they have been bagging in Faraway bags then that's fine. We just need to see what's in the bag. If, for example, a person has a big cardboard box or pizza box, just set it out on Monday. That will be fine. There won't be in any increase in rates."

Residents sort their laundry, Neuroth said, and they can think about their garbage and recyclables the same way.

Neuroth said practicality and common sense will make this a lot easier on everyone, but that it wouldn't have come to a state mandate if people in the county had taken it seriously when the DNR first proposed volunteer recycling nine years ago.

"If everyone had done this in 1995, we wouldn't have to be doing this," Neuroth said. "The purpose of these ordinances is to encourage more recycling and reduce the amount of garbage produced in the county. Recycling is the good citizenship thing to do. If lots of people make a little effort, it can make a big difference. This program has been voluntary since 1995, not it will be mandatory, as of Sept. 1."

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