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Mike Nowatzki, Forum News Service, Published March 11 2014

Bismarck launches curbside recycling program

BISMARCK – North Dakota’s capital city is taking another crack at curbside recycling, and this time city officials are optimistic the program will stick.

“We’re all excited. This is a time that we’ve been waiting for, and it’s finally arrived,” Service Operations Director Jeff Heintz said Tuesday.

Bismarck tried a curbside recycling pilot program in the mid-1990s, but it fizzled when participation and collections kept dropping.

Heintz said the pilot program wasn’t citywide and a consultant deemed the monthly pick-up schedule too infrequent. The program also required sorting recyclables, which was cumbersome, he said.

“Now, it’s a single-sort system, which is much easier,” he said. “And what they’re finding across the United States is this really increases your volumes. People don’t have to go through the process of thinking, ‘Which container does it go in?’ ”

Because of pushback from some who didn’t want the service, the city gave residents the choice of opting out, and about 20 percent decided not to participate, Heintz said.

Of North Dakota’s four largest cities, Bismarck is the third to add curbside recycling.

Grand Forks was the first, starting its mandatory-inclusion curbside program in 1990 and moving to a single-sort system in 2003.

Fargo residents still must sort their recyclables. The city launched its voluntary curbside program in 2001 and now has a participation rate estimated at 67 percent, after dropping its $3 monthly charge in 2009 when the city switched to a volume-based fee schedule for trash collection, Solid Waste Utility Director Terry Ludlum said.

Minot does not offer curbside recycling.