Recycling History

Recycling Task Force Overview 2009
The following are recommendations of the Bismarck Recycling Task Force to the Bismarck City Commission as of March 20, 2009

Members of the Task Force
Members include James Devine, Craig Hammer, Steve Windish, Kent Belland, Barb Owens, Jean Rolandelli, Doc Murphy, Curtis Patzell, Colleen Reinke, Jeff Heintz, Keith Hunke, Galen Bren and City Commissioner Mike Seminary, with Christy Ames and Kelley Richter-Melander assisting. Members represented businesses and residents of the city, as well as city officials.

The Bismarck Recycling Task Force (RTF) was created by the city as a response to a 2008 University of North Dakota (UND) Phone Survey which indicated Bismarck residents wanted more opportunities to recycle. The purpose of the RTF was to formulate recycling recommendations for the Mayor and City Commission’s consideration. While the RTF recognized that it may be beneficial to develop a region-wide recycling program, it did not address that issue. The RTF met twice a month from November 2008 to March 2009 to gather information and consider options.

Who Contributes to the Bismarck Landfill?
The majority of material that goes into the landfill is delivered by commercial haulers who collect waste from outlying communities and from businesses both within and outside of Bismarck. Bismarck residents contribute a lesser, but significant percentage. The RTF considered these numbers as it examined a number of options prior to narrowing its recommendations.

Advantages
The RTF saw the advantages of increased recycling as:
  • Extending the life of Bismarck landfill, thereby saving money for taxpayers and avoid difficult siting issues as long as possible
  • Moving Bismarck toward sustainability as it relates to this particular utility
  • Developing Bismarck into a destination community

The Next Steps
  • Analyze the costs of recycling options
  • Increase education of the community about the advantages of recycling
  • Analyze landfill value and costs
  • Involve commercial haulers in the recycling dialogue
  • Analyze technological advances in recycling continuously
These recommendations are respectfully submitted by the members of the Bismarck Recycling Task Force.


2008 Pay as you Throw (PAYT) Survey Results

Attitude and Opinions among citizens regarding recycling
Between May 25th and July 5th, 2008, the Bureau of Governmental Affairs conducted a phone survey of 382 randomly selected residents of the City of Bismarck over the age of eighteen to determine the distribution of attitudes and opinions among citizens on the subject of recycling.
Telephone Survey Results

Pay as you Throw (PAYT) Survey Results
The City of Bismarck has been studying ways to lengthen the life of the city’s municipal landfill. This has been done to keep the cost of siting and permitting a new landfill from impacting the citizens and the utility. One facet of lengthening the life of the landfill is to increase recycling by residential and commercial customers. The Recycling Task Force recommended to the City Commission in 2009 to implement a Pay as You Throw, or Volume Based fee structure for residential garbage collection to encourage increased recycling.

Pay as you Throw allows customers to have control over their garbage costs by choosing the appropriate trash container size for their lifestyle. Smaller containers have a lower price per month, while larger containers subsequently have a higher price per month. Any garbage that doesn’t fit inside of the container requires a special tag or bag to identify that these additional bags of garbage have been paid for in advance. The advance payment for extra garbage by using tags or special bags cuts down on the administration costs to the city for tracking additional garbage volume during pickup. This concept has been used successfully in many cities across the US and has resulted in increased volumes of residential recycling. By having an incentive to reduce the volume of trash by actively recycling, citizens keep their garbage disposal costs in check and reduce the volume of garbage entering the landfill.

A Pay as You Throw survey of Bismarck residents was proposed to the Bismarck Mandan Chamber of Commerce Leadership group and accepted as a viable project for the group to study. The survey would help determine the public’s level of understanding of a Pay as You Throw fee structure, and also determine their level of acceptance. The BMCC leadership group participants who analyzed the Pay as You Throw concept were; Emily McKay, Tonya Schlaht, Brian Fettig, and Mary L. Cooper.

Pay as You Throw surveys were sent out to 16,500 Bismarck residents in their January 2010 Bismarck water bill. The cutoff date for returning the surveys was February 8th, 2010. An overwhelming response of 4,558 surveys were returned to the leadership group for compilation and tabulation.

There were four questions that made up the Pay as You Throw survey. 1 – What is your age range? 2 – How many people are in your household? 3 – How informed do you feel about the Pay as You Throw program and fee structure? 4 – Would you support a Pay as You Throw program in Bismarck? There was also room for comments at the end of the survey. 1,940 comments were received and included verbatim in the appendix of the summary report. The groups executive summary outlines the survey’s findings and is included here for your review.