Cart sharing, opting out among possible changes.

Saint Paul’s Department of Public Works is recommending an extensive revision of the city’s mandatory trash collection program as the current contract for the service nears an October 1 expiration date. The city is now drawing up a request for proposals from trash haulers for the new contract, according to Susan Young, the city’s manager of resident and employee services.

The current contract for trash collection from one- to four-unit buildings in the city is held by Saint Paul Haulers LLC. The consortium of private haulers has indicated it is interested in renegotiating the existing contract. Young said that once the request for proposals is made, the hauler consortium can submit a bid like other haulers or hauler groups.

Saint Paul Haulers LLC was created five years ago when the city was negotiating its initial contract for mandatory trash collection. At the time, it included 15 private haulers. That number has been reduced to five as haulers chose to leave the consortium and sell their residential accounts to other haulers.

organized trash
Brian Navarrete of Highland Sanitation emptied a trash cart in an alley in Ramsey Hill back in 2019. Photo by Brad Stauffer


Waste Management now holds more than 50 percent of the residential accounts in the city. The other haulers in the consortium are Republic, Aspen, Gene’s and Highland Sanitation.

Several key changes have been recommended for trash collection in Saint Paul. Some of these came from a citizens garbage advisory committee. Others are from the Public Works Department.

Changes to customer service, cart management and billing

One change is customer service. City staff is recommending that customer service for both trash and recycling collection be moved from the private haulers and Eureka Recycling to city staff. Young noted that in some cases, people have waited on the phone for over an hour to get a response from haulers. The city is also recommending that it take over cart management for both trash and recycling and billing services for trash.

A chance to opt out or share a cart with neighbor

The Public Works Department is recommending that the residents of adjacent homes or small apartment buildings be allowed to share trash carts. City Council members indicated that cart sharing would be welcomed. However, they pushed Public Works to consider using small dumpsters for multi-unit apartment buildings rather than carts.

Public Works has recommended that single-family homes be allowed to opt out of the trash collection program if the residents can demonstrate that they generate little or no trash.

Yard waste and organics pickup

Yard waste pickup would remain an optional service for residents under the new contract. Another possible change is organics pickup. Ramsey County is developing a program that would allow residents to put food scraps in compostable bags and place the bags in the trash. The bags of scraps would then be pulled out of the waste stream at the trash facility in Newport that serves Ramsey and Washington counties.

Expanding number of bulky items

Public Works is recommending that the base rate for trash collection include the collection of up to six bulky items per year. Residents would no longer have to call their hauler ahead of time for the pickup of bulky items.

Currently, households may dispose of two or three bulky items per year without an extra charge. That was seen as a way to reduce illegal dumping of bulky items. However, illegal dumping has increased over the past five years.

First step toward municipal collection?

Public Works is also recommending that the city assume responsibility for 10 percent of the trash and yard waste collection services citywide. That is seen as a small step toward returning all of Saint Paul to a municipal trash collection program. The city dropped municipal trash collection in the 1970s in favor of private collection as a cost-cutting measure.

With the city handling customer service, billing, cart management and 10 percent of trash collection citywide, the number of city employees needed for the program would increase by 14. That includes four solid waste workers and one supervisor to manage the garbage and recycling cart programs and eight solid waste workers and one supervisor to handle the 10 percent of trash collection citywide.

— Jane McClure


MyVillager welcomes comments from readers. Please include your full name and the neighborhood in which you live. Be respectful of others and stay on topic. We reserve the right to remove any comment we deem to be profane, rude, insulting or hateful. Comments will be reviewed before being published.


house ad


Leave a Reply