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Helmut Schmidt, Published September 13 2009

Fargo starts curbside recycling Monday

It’s a stretch to call it a brave new world of solid waste in Fargo, but automated garbage pickup and curbside recycling are expected to save the city and some households money, while doubling the amount of material Fargo recycles and perhaps extending the life of its landfill.

Terry Ludlum, the city’s solid waste utilities manager, said most of the garbage carts designed for automated lift trucks have been delivered. Now the city is getting carts to homes that were missed, and swapping carts for people who’ve found their original pick too big or small.

“The vast majority want a smaller one, which is good news.” Ludlum said.

Recyclables will be picked up every other week, beginning on Monday. The blue bins are marked with an “A” or a “B” on the bottom to designate which week homeowners should put them out.

This week will be an “A” week, he said.

If you’re unfamiliar with what can be recycled in Fargo or how to pack the bins, check the graphics accompanying this article.

The new garbage system has several advantages, Ludlum said.

E Variable rate pricing more accurately charges residents for the waste they produce. Many families could pay less, he said.

A 48-gallon container costs $6 per month, a 64-gallon container is $9 per month, and the 96-gallon container is $14 per month.

Crews also will swap out containers once without charge if a resident wishes a different size. After that, there is a $10 charge to swap a container.

“It’s now a user-based system. It’s like the water system. The more water you use, the more you pay,” Ludlum said.

  • Repetitive motion and lifting injuries to sanitation workers should decrease, along with workers compensation costs.

  • Automated trucks can serve more than 600 homes a day, Ludlum said, compared with 350 to 400 homes per day for current trucks.

  • Curbside recycling was added for no charge to all city routes. Recyclables also can still be taken to the drop-off sites in place around the city.

    Voluntary residential recycling kept 5,375 tons of waste out of the landfill in 2007. That’s 9.6 pounds per week per household, or 24 percent of total household waste, a city survey found.

    “We’d like to see that number move closer to 50 (percent),” Ludlum said.

    Over time, greater recycling could add months, perhaps even a year, to the 14 years of life left in the landfill, Ludlum said.

    Ludlum said people with questions about variable rate garbage pickup or curbside recycling can call the utility’s hotline at (701) 476-4087.

    Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583