We all know we’re supposed to recycle whatever we can. In Sioux Falls, garbage haulers are required to meet minimum recycling standards. But is your garbage hauler making the grade?
KELOLAND Investigates has been looking into the recycling reports in Sioux Falls.
If your family is like most, you go through a lot of plastic berry containers. But if you’re throwing them in the recycling bin, you’re not doing your garbage hauler any good because they’re not recyclable. In fact, they could wind up taking your whole recycle bin to the landfill because it’s contaminated. The garbage haulers who fall at the bottom of the city’s list when it comes to meeting recycling goals blame you the customer and the city.
“We’re just a small family business and we take pride,” Cindy Neuroth said.
D & C Solid Waste Services has consistently placed at the top of the recycling list, keeping around 29 percent of the garbage is collects out of the landfill.
“We work really hard. It’s a lot of education; sending out information. When people put contamination in, I try to call them,” Neuroth said
“There are plenty of haulers who are doing the right thing in Sioux Falls,” Jessica Lantgen, Sioux Falls’ Sustainability Coordinator, said.
In fact, since the city started imposing an expected recycling rate in 2011, when fewer than half made the goal, most of Sioux Falls garbage haulers have risen within the acceptable range.
In 2012, five haulers were at the bottom of the list and faced fines.
In 2013, Sioux Falls Sanitation was the only hauler who didn’t make the recycling goal.
In 2014, it was Dan’s Garbage Service.
In 2015, Sioux Falls Sanitation was back on bottom and in 2016, it remained there, along with Dakota Disposal and Waste Management.
REVIEW RECYCLING RATES FROM 2011-2016
Not only do garbage haulers have to pay more at the landfill, if they don’t meet the minimum recycling requirements they also risk losing their license if they remain at the bottom of the list for three years.
“Oh I was unaware of that, so that is a big concern,” Diane Plucker of Sioux Falls Sanitation said.
Angela Kennecke: Do you think it’s fair to the garbage haulers to be at risk of losing their license?
Plucker: We shouldn’t be at risk of losing our license because our customers don’t recycle.
“There are a lot of resources out there for the waste haulers to try to educate their customers and encourage recycling. Unfortunately, some of the haulers don’t take advantage of that,” Lantgen said.
Lantgen says Sioux Falls Sanitation had plenty of warning and opportunity to work with the city on meeting the requirements.
“No, they have not met with me. They did when they didn’t meet it in 2015, we sat down and had a meeting, but I haven’t met with them since,” Lantgen said.
Waste Management is Sioux Falls’ second-largest garbage hauler, but also failed to meet the recycling standard for 2016.
“We recently submitted this additional tonnage for review by the city and with our calculation, our adjusted recycling rate is now 26.3 percent,” Julie Ketchum, Director of Government Affairs for Waste Management, said.
“They say they have an additional claim to turn in, however, we’re way past the deadline,” Lantgen said.
That deadline was in January. Now Waste Management is being fined more than $21,156 for not meeting the standards.
“The penalties are severe. We are very concerned about the penalties and the ordinance and their responsibility the ordinance places on the service providers,” Ketchum said.
The recycling standards for 2018 will change in Sioux Falls. The city says some haulers are now using yard waste to inflate their numbers, while not providing adequate recycling services. Yard waste will still be composted ion 2018, but it won’t be counted in the recycling numbers.