Sustainable Bulky Item Disposal Plan

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A study of over 2,000 curbside cleanup piles found that 35% of items collected and landfilled during the Curbside Cleanup are items that could have been reused or recycled. The current Curbside Cleanup generates significant waste sent to landfills, is expensive, and there are growing concerns related to availability of landfill space for these materials in the future. In 2020, after a year of studying the issues and researching potential strategies, the Sustainability Commission has proposed a new model for managing bulky items in a more sustainable and cost effective way that include giving residents vouchers to dispose of one to two bulky items at their curb throughout the year as well as hosting one or two Community Drop-Off events that would be open to all residents in Bloomington. The City is seeking community feedback to ensure that the new service options reflect the needs of our community..

Watch this video to learn more:

A study of over 2,000 curbside cleanup piles found that 35% of items collected and landfilled during the Curbside Cleanup are items that could have been reused or recycled. The current Curbside Cleanup generates significant waste sent to landfills, is expensive, and there are growing concerns related to availability of landfill space for these materials in the future. In 2020, after a year of studying the issues and researching potential strategies, the Sustainability Commission has proposed a new model for managing bulky items in a more sustainable and cost effective way that include giving residents vouchers to dispose of one to two bulky items at their curb throughout the year as well as hosting one or two Community Drop-Off events that would be open to all residents in Bloomington. The City is seeking community feedback to ensure that the new service options reflect the needs of our community..

Watch this video to learn more:

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    We just did the survey - and asked this there. Will there be assigned/designated times to do the drop off --- to avoid LONG lines on a Saturday morning? Long lines will discourage people from doing this. Also, if you are NOT paying for the service on your Garbage (utility bill) will there be a fee for them to participate = that would seem the fair thing to do. Will the vouchers be transferrable - yet still just for Bloomington residents? (example, a neighbor needing to get rid of more things than what we need to?)

    MLA asked 5 months ago

    We are planning to provide the event in a space that is accommodating to a good number of vehicles at a time, and has a lay-out that moves vehicles through the site quickly.  We also will provide instructions to residents ahead of time regarding how to pack their vehicles so items can be unloaded efficiently.  We may also consider designated times for different areas of the City.  While we do anticipate there will be wait times involved at a drop-off, this kind of planning helps cut down on long wait times.  The final event details are not finalized at this point, but a goal in planning the drop-off events will be to minimize wait times.

    Residents could use their two vouchers for pickup of any two items throughout the year, but could not “transfer” the voucher.  Any additional items scheduled for a pickup would be collected for a fee. 

    At this time, we are still exploring the best way to charge all users for the Community Drop-Offs.  In other communities with similar events, often residents who bring materials to the drop-off are charged directly at the event, depending on what they bring.  Certain items are collected at no cost, and certain items that are more costly to handle, like electronics, will include a small charge.  That way, the cost of the Community Drop-Off event is covered by all users, and not just those with City garbage and recycling service.  

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    What will happen if I leave a couch out for scheduled pickup with the voucher and someone steals or removes my voucher? Will I have to be present for scheduled pick up with voucher? Thanks, Bipin R. Amin

    inbip56 asked 5 months ago

    The vouchers are not physical pieces of paper.   The City would keep track of how many vouchers a household has available through our Utility Billing software.  So as a resident calls in to schedule a pickup of a bulky item to make use of a voucher, Utility Billing will track how many bulky items have been picked up for free.  After two bulky items had been picked up at no cost within the year, additional bulky items would be charged a fee.

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    What modifications have been made to your models to account for the tremendous amount of upcycling that happens within the existing system? Every year we put out heavy metal objects that could not be placed in the trash, and none of them are picked up by Bloomington, they are all upcycled. Your proposed system would totally eliminate this activity.

    Mike Bosveld asked 4 months ago

    Scrap metal could be set out for collection and recycling through use of a bulky item voucher, or brought to one of the drop-off events.  

    We are aware that reuse and recycling happens already in our current program, but it is not something the City can accurately track and study consistently – the piles are constantly changing throughout Curbside Cleanup, and households with the same collection day don’t set materials out at the same time.   

    We have considered the addition of a re-use area to our drop-off events to allow for recycling/upcycling.We anticipate some reuse will still happen naturally outside of City-sponsored events in the proposed model as well.   

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    I already pay for this service through taxes. If it's converted to a drop off event the ease of and likely hood of additional fees for dropping items off will less to increases in the cost without removing the tax. This is also an access issue as not everyone will be able to transport their stuff to the central location.

    Mike Bosveld asked 4 months ago

    The current curbside cleanup program is funded through a fee on resident’s utility bills, and is not funded through general City property taxes.

    In the proposed model, the vouchers for disposal of bulky items throughout the year would only be available for households with City garbage and recycling service, and would be paid for by all those households, similar to how the Curbside Cleanup fee is charged on Utility Bills today. 

    At this time, we are still exploring the best way to charge all users for the Community Drop-Offs.  In other communities with similar events, often residents who bring materials to the drop-off are charged directly at the event, depending on what they bring.  Certain items are collected at no cost, and certain items that are more costly to handle, like electronics, will include a small charge.  That way, the cost of the Community Drop-Off event is covered by all users, and not just those with City garbage and recycling service.  Typically, communities subsidize some of the costs of these events to keep the charges relatively low so people are incentivized to use the events.  The City receives a recycling grant from Hennepin County each year and may consider using part of that grant funding to cover the costs of collecting certain items for recycling at the event. 

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    you mention TVs. Right now the curbside clean-up program does not accept televisions nor monitors and there is a fee to drop them off at the Haz Waste site. Will these items be accepted at no additional fees under the proposed program? Also, have you considered allowing a household to accumulate vouchers over a couple years? For the case when they have nothing for a few years then have several items in a single year.

    BA asked 4 months ago

    In the proposed model, residents could use their two free curbside bulky item pickups per year for collection of electronics.   Residents could also bring electronics to a drop-off event where they would be collected for a fee.  The cost for collection of electronics would likely be subsidized through an annual recycling grant the City receives from Hennepin County each year, to keep the cost more affordable for residents. 

    Vouchers could not be carried forward if unused.  To deliver the program on a citywide scale, the City will negotiate a fee for the voucher program with the haulers.  The scope of service will likely be structured so haulers are paid a certain amount per year to provide the pickups, or a certain amount per item picked up.  If vouchers are carried over into additional years, this may present challenges with budgeting, and challenges for haulers to plan routes and time accordingly.

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    Why is this happening in Holy Saturday? I think it is very thoughtless and disrespectful

    Jean asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your input.  We understand the timing of Curbside Cleanup this year was difficult due to the Easter holiday.  

    In the proposed changes the City is considering, a resident could schedule pickups for two bulky items anytime throughout the year at a time that works best for them, plus one or two community drop-off events where residents could bring additional materials from disposal, recycling and reuse.  We will work to plan the community drop-off events based on feedback from residents on the best time of year, avoiding the first couple weeks of April due to weather and holidays. 

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    So I just read you prose we pay a few on our trash pickup bill for the vouchers, but then charge anyone that uses the drop off. This sounds like the perfect way for city of Blmgt. To gauge us again, just like happened with the trash takeover. We all know it will end up costly us MORE, not less of course.

    Noni asked 4 months ago

    As indicated in other responses to similar questions, the vouchers for disposal of bulky items throughout the year would only be available for households with City garbage and recycling service, and would be paid for by all those households, similar to how the Curbside Cleanup fee is charged on Utility Bills today.  We estimate that the voucher program will cost less overall and those cost savings would be passed along to residents.

    At this time, we are still exploring the best way to charge all users for the Community Drop-Offs.  In other communities with similar events, often residents who bring materials to the drop-off are charged directly at the event, depending on what they bring.  Certain items are collected at no cost, and certain items that are more costly to handle, like electronics, will include a small charge.  That way, the cost of the Community Drop-Off event is covered by all users, and not just those with City garbage and recycling service.  Typically, communities subsidize some of the costs of these events to keep the charges relatively low so people are incentivized to use the events.  The City receives a recycling grant from Hennepin County each year and may consider using part of that grant funding to cover the costs of collecting certain items for recycling at the event.  

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    Why is there no way to keep chairs and tables out of the waste stream by teaching people to repair, refinish or re- purpose items. My neighbor made a great bench out of two curbside day chairs. I am painting two curbside chairs and putting new fabric on the seats - no great skills needed.

    What is a screen name? asked 4 months ago

    The City will continue to encourage reusing, repairing, and repurposing items as the best environmental choice people can make.   Hennepin County offers virtual fix it clinics where residents can learn how to repair and repurpose items from experts.  The County also manages a Choose to Reuse website with great tools and ideas for how to reuse at work, at home and on the go. The City will continue to promote these resources and encourage reuse in the proposed new model for managing bulky items.

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    how will you bill residents that currently do NOT have individual trash service

    patg asked 5 months ago

    The proposed plan includes providing vouchers to households with City garbage and recycling service to dispose of one or two items a year at the curb, and holding one or two Community Cleanup Drop-Off Events each year where any resident, including those that live in apartments, condos or townhomes that don’t have City garbage and recycling service, can bring items for disposal.

    At this time, we are still exploring the best way to charge all users for the Community Drop-Offs.  In other communities with similar events, often residents who bring materials to the drop-off are charged directly at the event, depending on what they bring.  Certain items are collected at no cost, and certain items that are more costly to handle, like electronics, will include a small charge.  That way, the cost of the Community Drop-Off event is covered by all users, and not just those with City garbage and recycling service.  Typically, communities subsidize some of the costs of these events to keep the charges relatively low so people are incentivized to use the events.  The City receives a recycling grant from Hennepin County each year and may consider using part of that grant funding to cover the costs of collecting certain items for recycling at the event.  

    The vouchers for disposal of bulky items throughout the year would only be available for households with City garbage and recycling service, and would be paid for by all those households, similar to how the Curbside Cleanup fee is charged on Utility Bills today.  

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    Has the commission considered a "pay if use" model for this new program? What are the arguments for and against this method of covering the costs associated with providing this city-wide service?

    PaulS asked 5 months ago

    As indicated in other responses to similar questions, we have considered that model.  However, a “pay if use” model would mean higher prices to residents who need to use the service and may discourage appropriate disposal of these bulky items.

    An “all-pay” model means the program is accessible to all garbage and recycling customers when they need it, allows us to negotiate for lower volume pricing, encourages residents to deal with bulky materials responsibly, and allows more opportunity to recycle materials.

    Services like recycling, park maintenance and police patrol are paid for by everyone even though not everyone uses the service.  While not used by everyone, the entire community benefits by the provision of these services.