Other options available for residents to dispose of materials
By Jane McClure
Anyone who has been saving a stack of shingles or a broken stove for a Saint Paul neighborhood cleanup may have to wait until 2021 or seek other options for their disposal. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of all four of this year’s previously scheduled citywide drop-off events, including the one typically held in September on Shepard Road in Highland Park.
The cancellations were a disappointment, but not a surprise to local cleanup volunteers and users. Highland District Council executive director Kathy Carruth said her office has already been hearing from senior citizens who need to have items picked up. “We’re not sure how the seniors will be helped,” she said.
Lisa Hiebert of the Saint Paul Department of Public Works said residents should watch their mailboxes for details on how to dispose of bulky items and materials that typically go to the drop-off events.
Last year, vendors reported collecting 265 tons of waste for disposal and 189 tons of items that could be recycled during the drop-off events. The events drew a total of 3,147 vehicle loads. Highland had the second-largest event with 915 vehicles, behind the State Fair event with 1,070 vehicles.
The material collected last year included 136 tons of construction or demolition material, 128 tons of general refuse, 55 tons of electronics, 42 tons of appliances, nearly 20 tons of mattresses, 10 tons of shredded paper, 176 small engines and 183 bicycles.
Macalester-Groveland resident Cynthia McArthur, a longtime cleanup volunteer who collects bikes and bike parts for the Center for Victims of Torture, has seen a trend toward fewer volunteer helpers and fewer groups coming in to collect and reuse items. She would like to see more of a focus on reusing items and on teaching younger people the value of recycling.
McArthur wondered if there was a safe, low or no-contact alternative for residents to dispose of materials now that the drop-offs are canceled. “There’s been no direction from the city on what to do with such items,” she said.
Lisa Hiebert of the Saint Paul Department of Public Works said residents should watch their mailboxes for details on how to dispose of bulky items and materials that typically go to the drop-off events. Residents are also being encouraged to check the city website at tinyurl.com/y44dv86e for disposal options, including garbage transfer stations, household hazardous waste disposal sites and charities that accept reusable items.
Hiebert also reminded residents that they can have bulky items and electronics picked up with their trash. Residents of buildings with no more than four units can have two to three bulky items picked up each year at no charge, depending on the size of the trash carts they have selected. They need to arrange for the pickup of bulky items and electronics in advance with a their hauler. There are fees for additional items, which can be found at stpaul.gov/bulky.
Seniors and people with disabilities who need assistance can contact the new Neighbors Helping Neighbors program, Hiebert said. In partnership with Cities of Service and AARP, the program uses volunteers to safely support those who require help with basic needs due to their age, mobility, income or other factors. For more information, visit stpaul.gov/serve/neighbors-helping.
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