Why are we making changes to the Curbside Cleanup Program?

    Council directed the Sustainability Commission to develop alternative methods to dispose of bulky items like chairs and couches in a more sustainable way.  The current curbside model generates significant waste sent to landfills, discourages re-use and recycling, is expensive, and exacerbates growing concerns related to availability of landfill space for these materials in the future.

    What are the environmental issues with our current Curbside Cleanup Program?

    Curbside Cleanup waste is landfilled 

    Our regular residential garbage collected each week is sent to a waste-to-energy facility, the Hennepin Energy Recovery Facility in downtown Minneapolis, where it is incinerated and the resulting heat is converted into energy used to heat nearby buildings.  Our Curbside Cleanup waste cannot be sent to HERC because the facility is not designed to handle the volume of bulky items that our Curbside Cleanup program generates, and therefore the items need to be disposed of in landfills.

    The City landfilled 1,537 tons waste during the cleanup in 2019, and 2,000 tons in 2020.  With the exception of appliances and brush, all items collected by haulers during the cleanup are disposed of as garbage. Landfilling causes emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.  Rising levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere cause climate change.  The local landfills are approaching capacity and the City does not support the continuous growth of these landfills.  

    A study of the Curbside Cleanup Program found that 35% of items set out during Curbside Cleanup were in good, re-usable condition or could have been recycled

    Although some items set out at the curb get collected by other residents for re-use, there is still a lot of high quality stuff left over that ends up in the landfill.  In a 2019 study conducted of over 2,000 cleanup piles right before the garbage haulers came through, we found that 35% of the items landfilled were in good, re-usable condition or could have been recycled.  

    All of the items photographed were landfilled during the 2019 cleanup.  Photos were taken around 6:00 a.m. the morning haulers came through to collect items as garbage destined for landfill.  


    There are other options for managing bulky item waste that would allow for those items to be recycled or re-used rather than landfilled.

    How will I dispose of bulky items in the proposed new plan?

    The updated proposal includes:

    • An every-other-year curbside cleanup with limited items accepted. Small items that can fit in a large garbage cart will no longer be accepted during the cleanup.
    • A regular monthly collection of reusable and recyclable bulky items.
    • An annual drop-off event for other recyclable bulky items, like electronics not collected during the curbside cleanup.
    • Community swap events for certain categories of items like toys and sporting goods, and gardening tools

    More information about the new, updated proposal: July 29, 2021 Joint City Council and Sustainability Commission Solid Waste Working Group Presentation

    More information about the original proposal:  2020 City Council Presentation on Sustainable Alternatives to Curbside Cleanup Program (582 KB) (pdf) 

    Will Curbside Cleanup continue as normal in 2022?

    If the proposal is accepted, the Spring Curbside Cleanup would occur every other year and small items that can fit in a large garbage cart will no longer be accepted.  The Spring Curbside Cleanup would be held every even year, beginning in 2022.

    When will the proposed changes take effect?

    The proposed changes would take effect in 2022.

    Will the proposed changes cost less money?

    It costs over $1 million to provide the current Curbside Cleanup.  Based on our research as we developed the proposed plan, we found that the proposed changes could cost less than the current curbside cleanup.  Because this plan is still in the Community Engagement Phase, and hasn’t been fully approved by Council, we do not have final cost figures yet.  In order to get those final cost figures, we will have to put parts of the plan, like the pickup of reusable and recyclable items, and the recycling drop off events, out for bid, and determine other program costs.  So, it is challenging for the City to address what the actual cost savings to residents might be at this time.  However, if the final cost figures do reflect the cost savings as we have anticipated, the Curbside Cleanup fee would be adjusted and reduced accordingly.

    What items will be picked up in the every other year cleanup with the newly proposed plan?

    For the most part, the same unusable, bulky items that were collected during the current curbside cleanup program will be collected.   However, items that will fit in a regular sized garbage cart will not be collected—those should be disposed of in your regular weekly garbage collection.  There may be limits on the number of some of these items and special instructions for placing them at the curb.  A detailed list of items collected and other instructions will be provided prior to the annual pick up.  Items will likely include:

    • Appliances: water heaters, microwaves, washers, dryers, stoves, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, freezers, dishwashers, trash compactors, garbage disposals, water coolers, refrigerators.  
    • Bundled Brush
    • Carpets/Carpet Pads
    • Unusable household building materials: lumber, windows, doors
    • Unusable furniture: chairs, couches and sofas, etc.
    • Large scrap metal
    • Unusable furniture
    • Mattresses and box springs

    What reusable and recyclable items will be collected in the monthly pick up component of the newly proposed plan?

    A final list of items that will be collected has not been fully developed.  However, these reusable and recyclable items are likely to be accepted:

    • Reusable building materials: lumber, trim, plywood, bricks, pavers, fencing, cabinets, countertops, tile, solid core doors, windows
    • Gently used upholstered and wood furniture
    • Used bicycles and other metal recreational equipment, regardless of condition
    • Used lawn or snow equipment
    • Outdoor furniture that is not damaged
    • Damaged outdoor furniture, if it is metal
    • Tools: hand tools, garden tools, power tools in good working condition
    • Gently used rugs, no carpet
    • Household appliances that are in good working condition

    What items can be taken to the annual drop-off component of the newly proposed plan?

    A final list of items that will be collected at the drop of events has not been fully developed.   However, items may include:

    • Electronic items: TVs, computers, printers, stereos, cell phones
    • Mattresses and box springs
    • Paper for shredding
    • Tires
    • Small engines
    • Florescent bulbs

    Some items may require a small charge for disposal.

    Can I participate if I live in an apartment?

    All Bloomington residents will be able to participate in the annual drop off event and in swap events.   The every other year Cleanup event and the monthly reusable item pick up will only be available to households that participate in in the city’s regular garbage and recycling collection program.