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City aims for more recycling

Grand Forks residents appear to be recycling more than ever, but City Council members say they want to see even more recycling to reduce the amount of garbage going into the city landfill.

Grand Forks residents appear to be recycling more than ever, but City Council members say they want to see even more recycling to reduce the amount of garbage going into the city landfill.

Members of the service committee Tuesday talked about pushing contractor Waste Management to encourage more recycling, particularly in the city's north end, which tends to recycle less.

The committee also talked about reducing the size of standard garbage containers to encourage more recycling, but decided that such punitive measures might backfire.

A "pay as you throw" program of this kind would increase the cost of garbage compared with recycling.

Recycling is important because it would extend the life of the city landfill. City officials have had an enormously difficult time finding a place to build the new landfill, facing opposition everywhere it's gone. With legal costs added, the rough cost of the new landfill in Rye Township, N.D., is more than $11 million, according to Public Works Director Todd Feland.

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The city's recycling program so far has worked a little better than the council had hoped. Back in 2003, it told Waste Management to increase the amount of recyclables collected by 5 percent a year or the council would end the curbside pickup of recycling.

The program has averaged 7.2 percent a year since then, increasing to 11.3 percent in 2008.

City residents have increased recycling from 1,426 tons a year in 2001 to 2,039 tons in 2008. That's an increase from 57.4 pound per person per year to 74 pounds per person, based on city population estimates.

Of course, on a monthly basis, that's only an increase from 4.8 pounds to 6.2 pounds per resident.

Grand Forks produces about 40,000 tons of garbage a year. Another 35,000 tons come from regional customers.

Reach Tran at (701) 780-1248; (800) 477-6572, ext. 248; or send e-mail to ttran@gfherald.com .

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