As the city of Mitchell is gearing up to implement its new single-stream recycling program, local residents voiced their concerns and questions Tuesday during a public meeting.

Public Works Director Kyle Croce and Street and Sanitation Supervisor Kevin Roth held the public information meeting Tuesday night at the Corn Palace, where they provided community members with further details surrounding the changes for recycling collection.

“Some of our main goals are to increase the participation rate of recycling and increase the customer service that a lot of people were unhappy about,” Croce said. “And we wanted to continue recycling without increasing costs to the citizens. We think it’s a good program. We’re eager to start it.”

Mitchell residents will have the choice to receive a 64- or 96-gallon recycling cart equipped with rolling wheels, which will free up more space for recyclable items compared to the small 18-gallon blue bin that’s currently provided by Dependable Sanitation.

The recycling revamp comes after the city opted out of renewing its contract with Dependable Recycling, the Aberdeen-based company the city has contracted for recycling collection since 2005. The city has been paying Dependable $23,800 per month. After a number of residents have reported various issues they’ve had with the company, ranging from the recycling company not collecting recyclable adequate amount of items that recycling participants place in the bins. The city's contract with Dependable officially expires Dec. 31, and Millennium Recycling in Sioux Falls will take over on Jan. 1.

Josh Peterson, a local property owner, raised several questions regarding the recycling process for large apartment complexes.

“For the commercial apartment buildings who are already paying the per unit for recycling, will the city provide containers for those commercial apartment buildings?” Peterson asked.

Croce said the city will accommodate the large apartment complexes with recycling containers for those that make the request.

Considering the city’s recycling collection truck will be picking up curbside, Peterson asked whether apartment property owners who have their recycling dumpsters and containers in the alley or parking lot would have to bring those containers curbside.

“If I have an apartment complex, would we have to drag those cans to the curb every other week?” Peterson asked.

In response, Roth said the city will only collect recycling containers on the curbside.

Croce said the change was largely aimed at increasing recycling participation and collecting more recyclable items to help the landfill's life expectancy. The recycling participation rate for all city residents sits at 26%, and Croce has high hopes the new changes will increase the rate anywhere from 40 to 50% in the future.

Single-stream recycling occurs when participants place all recyclable items in a bin or cart, and the items are then collected and transported to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where they’re sorted and processed. After the city chose to enter into an agreement with Millennium Recycling, of Sioux Falls, that’s where the city will transport all recycled items. At previous City Council meetings, Croce estimated a total of 2,400 tons of recyclable items will be collected in 2020, equating to 240 trips between Mitchell and Sioux Falls at $400 per trip. That would bring the city's total fee to roughly $96,000 for 2020.

A mandatory $4 monthly recycling fee for all city residents with single-family dwellings will stay the same as it was under the previous contract with Dependable.

For commercial recycling accounts -- which were previously collected by Dependable Sanitation -- the city will offer recycling services for commercial businesses, which includes the option of utilizing a large dumpster at $35 per month or a 90-gallon container at $4 per month. Despite the option for commercial accounts to use the city for recycling, Croce said the ideal goal is to have private haulers, such as Miedema Sanitation or Petrik Sanitation, take on the bulk of commercial businesses.

Roth said there could be some miscommunication happening regarding Petrik’s concern, and asked for anyone with commercial properties who are experiencing any issues with recycling billing to contact the city or Street and Sanitation Department to work out a resolution.

“We are telling the commercial properties right now to try and resource through Miedema or Petrik Sanitation to utilize their services, but we will work on something if they are getting overwhelmed,” Roth said. “Anyone who pays a water bill in the city is charged that $4 for recycling per city ordinance, and we’re not charging anyone extra money for this new program.”

Millennium Recycling President Shannon Dwire presented a video tutorial of the single-stream recycling process at the Sioux Falls facility. Dwire gave a rundown on the list of items that Millennium will not accept at the recycling facility, which includes plastic bags, batteries, hoses and tanglers, fabric, diapers, medical waste, hangers, metal car parts, video tapes, plastic toys and plant and food waste.

By next week, Roth said the city will be distributing the recycling containers, which will be delivered to every city resident regardless if they participate.

With the city’s decision to no longer provide alley garbage collection, Roth said those crew members will not lose their jobs as they will shift their role to curbside recycling.

As for county residents outside the city limits who are interested in recycling, Roth said there will be drop off sites at the old landfill. County residents will not be charged for bringing their recycled items to the old landfill.