County recycling program expands

Published 9:32 am Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The recycling program in Freeborn County will soon reach more residents and even small businesses to meet the growing demand of the environmentally conscious.

The Freeborn County commissioners Tuesday approved a bid from Waste Management, the current recycling company, and a contract for the updated recycling program to begin Dec. 1.

“I want to do more recycling,” said Solid Waste Officer Randy Tuchtenhagen in the county’s Environmental Services Department. “I can’t believe the number of people coming in asking for more recycling opportunities, more services.”

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The new contract will add curbside pickup of recycling bins to two neighborhoods just outside of Albert Lea city limits: homes near Pickerel Lake off Freeborn County Road 17 and off state Highway 13 in the Indian Hills area.

Tuchtenhagen said that is 150 potential homes that could be recycling. Those homes could see a recycling fee increase from $23 to $26 for curbside service — this is the same as the solid-waste fee, which is attached to residents’ taxes.

There are about 13,600 homes paying the solid waste fee, including apartments, according to the Environmental Services Department. Tuchtenhagen estimated 75 to 80 percent of people in the county recycle.

Services will be added to commercial businesses through the residential recycling program, too. The details of this program have yet to be worked out, he said.

Freeborn County’s residential recycling program, Tuchtenhagen said, is one of the largest of the surrounding counties in terms of monthly tons collected.

Waste Management currently uses a 28-cubic-yard truck, which dumps twice daily. The recycling truck makes about 300 curbside stops a day.

In addition, there are 16 drop boxes throughout the county, ranging in size, that are dumped at least once a week.

Waste Management was the only company to bid on the countywide recycling program, although a few other companies showed interest.

The 60-month contract with Waste Management in existence, which will end Dec. 1, has a payment of $23,178.62 per month. The new contract will see a slight increase each of the five years. Next year the monthly payment will be $23,180.

Each year will see an increase of 2.5 percent. The monthly fee in the fifth year will be $25,586.

On top of the monthly charge, when diesel gas prices get to be more than $5 a gallon a fuel surcharge will be added as a percentage of the monthly fee.

Tuchtenhagen said with the new contract he wanted to identify all the programs Environmental Services and Waste Management have been doing as well as increase the recycling opportunities and services.

New recycling opportunities include bins at outdoor events this summer. Tuchtenhagen said containers should be out for events but he needs to get communities to buy into doing that, which they are.

“We have thousands of people coming here and they want to recycle,” he said.

Returning this summer will be the “Get Caught Recycling” program where Tuchtenhagen and a representative from Waste Management will venture out into the county early in the morning to catch someone bringing recycling to the curb.

Whoever is caught recycling could receive chamber bucks.

The program was inadvertently put on hold, Tuchtenhagen said, because both agencies got busy this past year. But, he said, he looks forward to bringing the program back.

“I liked it because it recognized people for doing a good thing — recycling,” he said.