Maplewood to roll out recycling carts

Maplewood will soon replace recycling bins with carts, costing the city $2.50 per month per household. The recycling rate for residents is already set at $2.94 per month.

Maplewood will soon roll out recycling carts, allowing residents to bring more recyclables to the curb -- and cover them with a lid.

The carts will replace all residents' topless bins by about March, tentatively, according to city staff.

The Maplewood City Council in December voted 4-1 to replace the basic bins, which have cost the city $1.75 per month per household. The new contract costs the city $2.50 per month per household the first two years, and $2.75 in 2016 and 2017.

The recycling rate for residents is $2.94 per month in 2014, a number that was set prior to the approval of the switch to carts.

The Environmental and Natural Resources Commission will soon discuss the specifics of the implementation, such as the carts' size.

Some city and county officials hope the carts will boost the use of the service. Some residents simply want them for the convenience.

In a cart pilot project, 214 single-family households were given the carts for six months. Those who participated tossed 37 percent more recycling into the 65-gallon carts, compared to the six months using the 18-gallon bins, according to city documents. Overall participation in the program also increased by 25 percent.

The majority of those who responded to a city survey said that the increase in the contract would be worth it. Responders said that the wheeled containers would be easier to move and a lid would deter critters and keep their aluminum cans, cardboard and newspapers from tumbling down the street on windy days, according to city documents.

Supporting programs that increase residential recycling efforts, the Ramsey County Public Entity Reduction and Recycling Program had awarded the city a $100,000 grant to offset the cost of buying carts. But, because the council decided to contract with Tennis and have the company buy the carts, the city can't use the grant under the current option.

Other options considered

Mayor Will Rossbach and council member Kathy Juenemann voted in favor of a motion for the city to buy its own carts, in order to save money over time. That motion failed. Carts would have cost the city $553,000 in bonds, but it would have meant some long-term savings.

The average cost in a seven-year contract with the city-purchased carts would have been $2.54 per household per month, according to city documents. That calculation didn't factor in a revenue-sharing agreement.

"I can't quite see why we would pay for something year after year after year when we can get it and pay for it and get two-thirds of its lifetime for nothing," Rossbach said at the Dec. 9 meeting. "Over the long term, the city buying the carts is the cheapest way to go."

Others showed support for a six-year contract, where Tennis would charge the city for the wheeled containers.

But Rossbach's wariness of such a long contract, hoping to give the city more frequent opportunities to review its options, led council members to compromise by passing the four-year contract. Juenemann voted against it.

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at and 651-748-7814. Follow her at


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