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Survey: Fargo residents overwhelmingly willing to pay for no-sort recycling

FARGO - A survey the city used to see if residents are willing to pay more each month to avoid having to sort recyclables has found the answer is an overwhelming "yes."The nonscientific survey shows that more than two-thirds said they would be wi...

FARGO – A survey the city used to see if residents are willing to pay more each month to avoid having to sort recyclables has found the answer is an overwhelming "yes."

The nonscientific survey shows that more than two-thirds said they would be willing to pay more.

Jen Pickett, the city's recycling coordinator, said Friday that the survey gives staff an idea of public opinion, but it wouldn't be a deciding factor. It's up to the City Commission to decide if it wants to do no-sort recycling, she said.

At the very least, the survey shows commissioners how people who cared enough about the issue and knew about the survey feel. The survey was available online and by mail to whoever wanted to take it starting in November and ending two months later.

A no-sort or single-sort recycling program, depending on how one looks at it, would allow residents whose recyclables are picked up at curbside to put all materials into one container instead of sorting them in paper bags and plastic tubs as now required.

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West Fargo went to a no-sort program in April and saw the number of households recycling jump from 10 to 80 percent.

Pickett said consultants working for the city of Fargo are still studying the feasibility of a similar program here and will likely have results at the end of the month.

Because the Fargo survey is not randomized, it's not able to give a sense of how all residents feel about single-sort recycling. Out of 25,000 households that get curbside pickup, 2,985 started the survey and 2,741 actually finished, answering all four questions.

Asked if they live in a single-family residence - these are the main customers for curbside recycling - 93 percent, or 2,774, said "yes."

Asked if they now recycle, 87 percent, or 2,413, said "yes." This is higher than the citywide recycling rate for curbside customers, which is around 70 percent.

Asked if they would start recycling or recycle more with a single-sort program, 68 percent, or 1,867, said "yes."

Asked if they would be willing to pay more, 68 percent, or 1,858, said "yes."

There were no "maybe" or neutral answers allowed.

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