Recycling Rebellion

Colleen Reinke

By Colleen Reinke

I am fed up. I have put the city’s public works department on notice that I am p*ssed.

In 2008-09, Bismarck formed a Recycling Task Force made up of citizens and business leaders. Its purpose was to examine the issues and possibilities for recycling in our fair city. The task force gathered information and sat through many presentations about recycling options. It was a thoughtful and practical and dedicated group. I was on the task force. In April of 2009 – THREE YEARS AGO!!! – the task force presented a report to the city commission that recommended curbside recycling and a pay-as-you-throw program. At that point, the city was undertaking an analysis of the landfill, and they wanted to wait to see how the numbers came out for the value of landfill space before deciding what direction recycling would go. This was not unreasonable. The city expected that analysis to be completed by the end of 2009. Oddly enough, I ended up serving as a citizen member of the Solid Waste Group that was working on the landfill report. The last meeting I attended of this group was well over a year ago. We still don’t have the engineer’s report. And once we do have the report, just how long do you suppose it will take the city to act?

Many folks knew of my involvement in city recycling issues, and they have continually asked me when the city will be doing something to improve recycling opportunities. I keep telling people that the flood screwed everything up and they should be patient. The time to be patient has passed! Part of my frustration occurred the last time I tried to dispose of my recycling. I went to three different sites before I could get rid of all of my recyclables. What should have been a 15 minute task turned into a 1 hour ordeal. I have heard from many other people that they have simply quit recycling because it is too difficult. Count with this group one of my older neighbors who would gladly recycle if it were easier to do. There is no decent reason that a city the size of Bismarck (and the capitol, no less) cannot get its collective act together and implement curbside recycling.

So this is what I am going to do, as an individual and a citizen of our lovely\ city. Beginning the week of Earth Day, which is April 22, I am going to stop using the city recycling drop sites. I am going to put a sign on a garbage can or a couple of boxes that says “Recycling – leave container at curb” (so the garbage collectors will leave them behind), and start putting my recyclables out with my regular garbage can. If I put out two containers, one will be for paper and one will be for everything else. The city can decide what they want to do: throw them away, or recycle them. My hope is that everyone in Bismarck will start to do the same thing and the city will have to implement curbside recycling because the citizens have implemented curbside recycling!

If you are of a like mind on this issue, I invite you to join me.

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