The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 25, 2012

North Mankato eyes change in trash and recycling



Councilwoman Diane Norland suggested sticking with Hansen for another year and discussing the matter in time to make a switch, if the council wants to, in 2014.

“If you promise to get it done,” said Schindle, who is leaving the council at the end of December.

The issue is complicated by the existence of the Riverbend Recycling Center in North Mankato — a facility jointly owned by the city and Nicollet County that prepares curbside recyclables for sale on the recycling market. The facility handles household recyclables from throughout Nicollet County, other than St. Peter.

The Waste Management bid that offered co-mingled recycling would have taken the recyclables to its own sorting facility, leaving the city-county facility with a fraction of the recyclables that it’s now handling. The facility is largely staffed by MRCI, which provides jobs for area residents with developmental disabilities, so accepting the Waste Management bid would have an employment impact for that population, along with a small number of city employees.

The city currently requires Hansen to deliver recyclables to Riverbend Recycling and could continue to do that with whoever wins the next contract. But Riverbend is set up to deal with only materials that are meticulously separated.

Dealing with everything from cardboard to bottles to plastic to metal arriving in a motley mixture would require the creation of an entirely new processing line at the city-county recycling center.

“We’d likely have to make some modifications, potentially even structurally,” said interim City Administrator Mike Fischer.

And that would have to be a decision made jointly by the city and Nicollet County.

“If there are going to be changes, then we really have to bring in the county,” Fischer said.

All those issues played into the decision to stick with Hansen for 2013. But even if the city decides to stick with the current recycling system, there may be some pressure to seek proposals beyond Hansen for 2014 because Waste Management was offering a monthly rate $1.32 cheaper than Hansen even without single-sort recycling.

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