Trash talk in St. Paul

Recycling ddustbins

Image via Fotolia: #80127845 | Author: vostal

St. Paul has 19 licensed residential trash haulers. I’m sure they are all good, but I’d rather not see and hear different trucks rumbling through our alley five days a week. A study by Wilder Research and another by the Macalester Groveland Community Council find that most St. Paul residents agree, and many trash haulers would also like to see a more organized, rational system. The Mac-Groveland study ended up recommending that “haulers contract with the City through a consortium to develop a more efficient trash collection system which will benefit all of us, including the small and local haulers whom we seek to support. “

An organized system doesn’t mean that the city would collect trash — it means that trash collectors would contract for different areas of the city. Organized trash collection lowers costs, because routes are shorter, and decreases wear and tear on alleys, as well as reducing fuel consumption, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

The cost difference is dramatic. According to the Wilder Research report, the average St. Paul household paid about $30 a month for trash collection in 2009. In Minneapolis, in 2013, a household paid only $23.66 per month — and that also covered “single-sort recycling collection, bulky and yard waste removal, alley plowing, and other miscellaneous waste services.” (Please note: alley plowing!)

On January 21, the Pioneer Press published an eloquent plea by St. Paul resident Genevieve Marault, who described problems with illegal dumping in lower-income neighborhoods, and argued for an organized trash collection system:

“Garbage removal is a basic, public health issue, like having water and sewer hook-ups at every address. The objective of a municipal garbage hauling system is simple: get the garbage hauled away from every home in a timely, economical, orderly, equitable and environmentally conscious way. Anybody who thinks that’s happening right now in all of St. Paul’s neighborhoods is living on Fantasy Island. But that ideal system is easy for city government to achieve, as evidenced by Minneapolis’ system.”

Implementing an organized trash collection system would require many decisions: billing arrangements, division of routes, additional solid waste services (e.g. pick-up of bulky items), fair labor agreements, etc. Minnesota law provides a process for coming to an agreement on all of these, which would begin with a 60-day negotiating period with current haulers. The Mac-Groveland report says that, “based on the number of smaller haulers operating in the City that have expressed a desire to continue providing this service to St. Paul residents, we believe that a consortium contract can be negotiated that will provide all the benefits of organized collection while better supporting valued small businesses.”

Mac-Groveland Community Council held community meetings throughout the city as it prepared its report. Another community meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 1 at 7:00 p.m. at Wellstone Community Center in the West Side Room. For more details and information about the pros and cons of a change, read the Taking Out the Trash report.  You can contact the Mac-Groveland Community Council at or 651.695.4000

When you’ve had a chance to review the information and make up your mind, let your elected representatives know what you want to see in St. Paul trash collection:

Ward 1: Dai Thao (651) 266-8610 or
Ward 2: Rebecca Noecker (651) 266-8620 or
Ward 3: Chris Tolbert (651) 266-8630 or
Ward 4: Russ Stark (651) 266-8640 or
Ward 5: Amy Brendmoen (651) 266-8650 or
Ward 6: Dan Bostrom (651) 266-8660 or
Ward 7: Jane Prince (651) 266-8670 or

1 Comment

Filed under St. Paul Notes

One response to “Trash talk in St. Paul

  1. Pingback: Organizing St. Paul: Trash and alley plowing on the agenda | News Day

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