Responding to fewer community drop-off sites for recycling, Crosslake likely will start requiring trash haulers who operate in the city to buy a city license and to offer curbside recycling.

City council members asked staff to prepare an ordinance to that effect for them to consider at the July 13 meeting. The ordinance likely will be similar to one Pequot Lakes adopted in 2014 after that city’s community recycling bins were pulled.

The discussion came after Crosslake Roll-Off stopped accepting recycling because of costs, and after Crow Wing County announced it was reducing the number of recycling drop-off sites in the county from 12 to four because of costs, and possibly to two in 2021.

The closest recycling spot for Crosslake residents is the Ideal Township Transfer Station.

The city’s current ordinance requires residents to have garbage pickup, but doesn’t require recycling. Eric Loge, president of Waste Partners in Pine River, has been corresponding with the city and asking for a city ordinance for trash haulers to keep a level playing field and to keep recycling.

Loge estimated he provides service to 85% of Crosslake residents, including curbside recycling. He said he’s at a competitive disadvantage when other haulers don’t provide recycling services.

“I don’t have the choice of being able to charge recycling customers more for it,” Loge said, noting all customers pay the same price, whether they recycle or not, because of state law.

The actual cost of curbside recycling services is around $10 per month, he said in a memo to the council, and a competitor could offer trash service for $10 per month less if that hauler doesn’t provide recycling services. For that savings, many people would change service companies, meaning those providing recycling would quit doing so to be competitive and the community would have no recycling options, he said.

So to compete with other haulers who don’t have recycling costs, Loge said he’d have to stop offering recycling to drop his price to that of other haulers.

“I think it’s a great community service,” Loge said of recycling.

Council members appeared to agree at the Monday, June 8, meeting held online via Zoom.

Council member John Andrews said he thought it was a brilliant idea and a no-brainer.

“I think we should do it,” he said of adopting an ordinance.

Council member Aaron Herzog agreed.

City Attorney Brad Person said another possibility, which he wasn’t necessarily advocating, would be to require all haulers to submit a bid and have just one hauler in the city for trash collection and recycling. That would avoid duplication of garbage trucks on city roads.

Mayor Dave Nevin favored competition and having all trash companies on the same ballfield. Council member Dave Schrupp said the city wasn’t large enough to bid for just one hauler.

Loge suggested the council charge a $1,000 licensing fee, rather than the $100 fee Pequot Lakes charges, to discourage too many companies from only collecting a small number of customers while still adding wear and tear to city streets. However, council consensus appeared to favor the $100 fee.

The council will revisit this in July.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.