Bloomington wants to increase trash cart fees to maximum allowed by local law

Barchart for Sanitation Disposal
The $402,065 of “disposal” costs for 2019 include $85,616 for processing 3,243 tons of recyclables at a new rate of $26.40 per ton. It’s typically been a rebate, not a cost, but because the global recycling commodities market is down, Bloomington now has to pay to get its recycled material processed.

Bloomington residents who use medium-sized solid waste carts for their trash will pay about $13 more per year, if the board of public works approves a rate increase at its meeting next Tuesday.

The fee for small- and large-sized carts would also increase under the proposal from the sanitation division of the city’s public works department.

Cart Size New
35 Gallon $6.51 $6.22 4.66% $3.48
64 Gallon $11.61 $10.52 10.36% $13.08
96 Gallon $18.52 $16.60 11.57% $23.04

What’s the reason for the proposed rate increase?

According to a press release issued by the city of Bloomington on Thursday, it’s due to the fact that the global recycling market has declined. Instead of getting money back for its recycled commodities, in 2019 the city had to start paying Hoosier Disposal/Republic Services for the processing of those materials.

According to the city’s press release, the rate increase will cover only about 40 percent of the anticipated increased recycling costs for 2020.

Bloomington’s director of public works, Adam Wason, told The Square Beacon that the remaining 60 percent of the increased cost will be covered with a combination of measures to reduce overall costs, and through the support received from the city’s general fund.

The city council doesn’t need to approve the rate increase. That’s because the proposed increases are still in the ranges specified in the ordinance enacted by the city council in 2017.

But there’s no more room to enact further increases, because the fees requested at Tuesday’s meeting are the maximums allowed under the 2017 local law.

The 2017 ordinance replaced the old sticker system and switched the city’s recycling to a single-stream approach, where materials are not separated out. At last year’s August budget hearings, Wason told the city council about the fees for recycling processing that are now being charged to the city.

The city currently diverts about 32 percent of its waste to recycling. Bloomington’s goal is to reach a recycling diversion rate of 40 percent. The Environmental Protection Agency puts the national diversion rate at 35 percent.

The city’s board of public is scheduled to decide the rate increase  at its meeting on Tues., March 3 at 5:30 p.m. in the city council chambers.

From the city’s data portal, here’s part of the solid waste picture for the last 12 years:

version 2 Barchart for Reycling Amounts
For the two years since the cart system was implemented, recycling tonnage has increased, compared to years after 2011. The last two years show similar levels to pre-2012 years.
Barchart for Sanitation Rebates
The amount of rebates for recycled good for the last two years has been zero. Rebates have been replaced with costs.
Barchart for Trash Amounts
The amount of trash that’s been collected since the city started using the cart system in the last two years has increased. At the August 2019 budget hearings, the city’s public works director, Adam Wason, told the city council that data on participation broken down by household was not available at that time, because the city’s software vendor had not been able to meet the city’s needs. That led the city to switch software vendors, but it would take some time to recover the missing data, Wason said at the time.