SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The City of Sioux Falls says it has seen a decrease in people recycling since 2018. The Public Works Department has been looking at why there was a decrease and how to fix it.

Many of us grew up hearing the phrase ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ but that third ‘R’ word seems to be losing power in Sioux Falls.

“We’ve seen an overall steady decrease in recycling and we hit a peak in 2018 where we hit 23.4% and at the end of ’22 we were down to 18.7%,” Mark Cotter, Director of Public Works, said.

Sustainability coordinator Holly Meier says a task force found there are two main challenges with the city’s recycling program. Number one — recycling contamination in multi-family housing and commercial properties.

“Recycling contamination is when recyclables are bagged or if trash and non-recyclables are placed in the recycle bin,” Meier said.

The second challenge was an overall lack of knowledge on how to recycle properly.

“We have sent postcards to multi-family housing properties with recycling reminders and we’ve developed educational materials for commercial properties and haulers to share with their customers,” Meier said.

Meier says starting November 15, Millennium Recycling will no longer accept bagged recyclables.

“If any recycling is bagged, it’s essentially like you are not recycling at all because it will end up in the landfill. So keep those materials loose and that goes for residential, commercial, at your place of work, at your home, if you’re in an apartment or single-family housing,” Meier said.

For a closer look at what the city recycling task force found in it’s study, click here.