In 2019, the City started looking at the Curbside Cleanup program from an environmental perspective. The City landfilled 1,537 tons of 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. Although some items set out at the curb are collected by other residents for reuse, most end up in the landfill. A study conducted in 2019 of more than 2,000 cleanup piles before garbage haulers came through revealed that 35% of the items landfilled were in good, reusable condition or could have been recycled.
The City Council directed the Sustainability Commission to develop alternative methods to dispose of chairs, couches and other bulky items in a more sustainable way. You may wonder why this is important. Landfilling causes emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Rising levels of greenhouse gasses cause climate change. Waste prevention and recycling are real ways to help mitigate changes to the climate. The bulky items picked up as trash during Curbside Cleanup end up in landfills, often the Burnsville sanitary landfill. Local landfills are approaching capacity and the City does not support the continuous growth of these landfills. The current method of collecting bulky items is also very expensive. There is a need to find better solutions.
In May 2020, the Sustainability Commission recommended providing bulky item vouchers and having one or two community cleanup events in place of the spring Curbside Cleanup. The voucher would allow each household to schedule a pickup for two items from their curb at any time of the year. A community cleanup event would allow any Bloomington resident, including those who live in multi-family dwellings, to bring a variety of bulky items to a single location to be collected for recycling, reuse and disposal. Preliminary estimates show the recommendation would cost half of what the current Curbside Cleanup does.
The Sustainability Commission’s recommendation aligns with several City strategic priorities. It’s cost-effective, has clear environmental benefits and would expand accessibility to all Bloomington residents.
Curbside Cleanup will continue in 2021. See page 5 for details. Council and staff will use this year to develop the new program and seek community feedback in the coming months on different aspects of the voucher and drop-off program. We are looking for your input. Please visit blm.mn/letstalk for additional details about the proposed changes and opportunities to provide feedback.