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Dickinson takes recycling bids

Dickinson will now be taking bids from companies interested in contracting with the city to start a curbside recycling program. On Wednesday the city's public works department sent out a request for proposals (RFP) for "residential recycling, col...

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The City Commission will ultimately vote to decide whether to bring curbside recycling to Dickinson for the first time. Photo by Ellie Potter/The Dickinson Press

Dickinson will now be taking bids from companies interested in contracting with the city to start a curbside recycling program.

On Wednesday the city's public works department sent out a request for proposals (RFP) for "residential recycling, collection, processing and marketing services for the city of Dickinson," according to the proposal.

The city has about 7,560 single family home units including two-plex units, condominiums and trailer parks that will be serviced by individual containers, according to the proposal.

The City Commission approved the RFP for publication at their meeting on Nov. 21 and will evaluate the coming bids and proposals from companies in order to determine if they want the program in the city. Mayor Scott Decker said the commission needs to wait until the bids came in before making a decision on the project.

"It's something that we want to do, but it also has to be feasible through our budget for us to be able to do it," he said.

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He noted that when he lived in Georgia the garbage collectors would not pick up a household's regular waste unless they had set out their recycling bins as well.

"I think there are things that need to be put back into the system like plastics, aluminum and glass and some other paper products - whatever we can do to help the environment, even if it's just a little bit," Decker said. "But at the same time I think it has to be economically feasible for the city to do it."

The companies who bid on the potential project would need to provide the approximately 7,560 households with 96-gallon containers that would be collected curbside biweekly, said Aaron Praus, the city's solid waste manager.

Residents living in apartment complexes would be excluded from this service in the meantime, said Gary Zuroff, the Dickinson public works director. The department has not yet devised a way to set up curbside recycling in apartment complexes because there would not be an individual container. If curbside recycling is implemented, then the department may look into bringing it to apartment residents in the future.

The proposal would request that companies interested in recycling in Dickinson will provide the recycling containers for households as well as the vehicles, equipment and staff for the collection, Praus said.

The RFP requests that at least glass, metal, plastics - including aluminum cans, steel cans, glass bottles, milk or juice containers and plastic bottles and tubs be recycled. It also requests that fiber - including newspapers and inserts, office paper and mail, boxboard, corrugated cardboard, phone books, magazines and catalogs - also be recycled.

Proposers are also asked to consider avenues for recycling other items such as electronics and light bulbs and to consult the city before adding such items to the recyclable list, according to the RFP. The company, if chosen, would be employed for five years - a term the city may choose to extend.

Zuroff said that the company would probably have to take the recyclables to Minneapolis to a material recycling facility. There are not many facilities in the area, which is why some smaller, more rural communities sometimes chose not to have recycling, he said. Mandan pays about $5 to $6 a month per household for the recycling service, but because Dickinson is a bit further from Minneapolis, he estimated that the cost per household would hopefully be about $5 to $7 per resident per month because of transportation expenses.

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Residents would not be able to opt-out of the program, Praus said. They could choose not to recycle, but the charge for the service will still appear on their utility bill.

"Basically it's a no opt-out feature meaning if the city of Dickinson implements a curbside recycling program to their residents, the residents have no option to accept or not accept recycling," Praus said. "Everybody has to do it."

If implemented, this would be the first time the city has had a curbside recycling program, Praus said. The city has been looking into curbside recycling programs for years, especially during the oil boom when so many people from other parts of the nation came to town and were familiar with the idea. There were even some companies who contacted them and were interested in starting the service but eventually chose not to.

The city later began doing some of its own research into the economics of the service, Praus said. The commission agreed to let the city prepare an RFP to solicit some price quotes to determine how expensive such a venture would be before they will ultimately decide whether to bring curbside recycling to Dickinson.

"It's been a long process talking about different options," Zuroff said. "We looked at doing it in-house, we've looked at other cities and towns. It's a new area for us to get into, and recycling is always a positive thing."

Recycling could also help increase the lifespan of the landfill, Praus said.

"It's the latest trend... and not only that, it does lower the amounts of landfill space, air space that's used out at the landfill," he said. "It's recycling, so it's reusing the actual products, so there are benefits to it."

Currently there are still two recycling locations in town: one on the 600 block of West Broadway Street and the other on the 600 block of 13th Avenue West right off Dickinson State University's property, Praus said.

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Proposals will be accepted until 2 p.m. MT on Jan. 25. Praus said he thinks they will then present their findings to the commission at the Feb. 6 meeting and offer the department's recommendations. The commission will ultimately make the final determination.

"I'm hoping we get quite a few requests for proposals, and I'm hoping we get good prices, and we can start recycling in Dickinson soon," Zuroff said.

Related Topics: DICKINSON CITY COMMISSION
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