Let’s work together to recycle more, recycle right
The City of Sioux Falls is working with community partners to increase recycling in the Sioux Falls region. Recycling is a practical effort that makes a big difference. First, recycling extends the life of the landfill, which the City owns and operates. Whenever we divert materials that can be reused out of the waste stream, we save airspace and allow the landfill to last longer. New landfill cells cost millions of dollars. Maximizing the space we have helps keep waste collection costs stable, saving money for all of us. Additionally, the items we recycle are sent to facilities that turn the products into new ones, conserving valuable natural resources now and for future generations.
Sioux Falls has had a long track record of successful recycling, with the first ordinances supporting recycling in 1992, and requirements for recycling starting in the mid-90s. In the past few years, our regional recycling rate has steadily declined. We take that seriously, and last fall the City of Sioux Falls created a recycling task force that investigated the reasons for the declining rate and put together a path to turn the trend around.
We found recycling at single-family homes is doing well, with strong participation and clean recycling. On the other hand, recycling at multi-family housing and business properties have the greatest room for improvement. This is due to several reasons, including having multiple users interacting with fewer bins and the increased opportunity for contamination, which is when trash or non-recyclables are placed in the recycling bin. Across the board, we found that a lack of knowledge about what and how to recycle is a significant contributor.
How businesses can help
Sioux Falls’ businesses play a significant role in helping our community achieve its common goal: to recycle more and recycle right. Residents receive positive reinforcement for their personal recycling efforts when they see them reflected communitywide at places where they work, dine, shop, play and gather. When recycling at your business, organization, or property, consider the following:
- Don’t bag recycling. Keep recyclables loose. Bagged recycling goes to the landfill and can result in additional fees for business customers. The only exception to this is shredded paper, which can be tied in a clear plastic bag and placed in the bin.
- Recycle only the following materials: paper and cardboard, glass jars and bottles, metal cans, and plastic tubs, jugs, and bottles. Too many wrong materials in the bin can contaminate the load and cause additional fees for the recyclers and haulers, and ultimately be passed on to businesses.
- Maintain a 1:1 recycle bin to waste bin ratio. If you do not offer recycling at your facility, please start. Recycling is required for all businesses in Sioux Falls. Providing a recycling bin with every waste bin allows staff and visitors to have convenient access to recycling when they have an item to dispose of.
- Provide additional recycling tonnages to haulers. If your business recycles cardboard or other materials that are not picked up by your hauler, please provide those tonnages to your hauler. This allows them to get credit for the recycling and helps them stay in compliance with City rules.
Support is available
The City, your hauler and recycling partners can help your business with recycling. Support and resources from the City of Sioux Falls include:
- An onsite assessment of recycling and recommendations for improvement.
- Recycling flyers and signage to post at your business or workplace.
- In-person educational trainings for employees and colleagues.
- Other ideas to support recycling in your workplace
For a printable recycling flyer and more tools you can use in your business, visit siouxfalls.gov/recycle. If you have questions or would like additional support in recycling at your business or property, please reach out.
Thank you for your continued leadership. Our community is among the best because we work together, and I am confident Sioux Falls can achieve recycling success.
As the sustainability coordinator at the City of Sioux Falls, Holly works with the public, organizations, businesses and City employees to protect natural resources and reduce waste. She has an M.S. in natural resources science and management from the University of Minnesota.