Sioux Falls Recycles Nearly Half of Its Waste

The City of Sioux Falls Public Works announced today, March 27, 2017, that residential garbage haulers’ recycling rate for 2016 was 23.2 percent.

Recycling rates are calculated by dividing the total amount of recyclables (including yard waste) by the total amount of solid waste hauled. By City ordinance, all licensed commercial waste haulers are annually required to achieve the standard of at least 80 percent of the recycling goal. In 2016, the recycling standard was 18.9 percent. Haulers who do not meet the standard receive a surcharge. Haulers with a recycling rate of 35.4 percent or more receive a rebate. All waste haulers’ annual recycling rates are posted on The new 2017 residential garbage hauler recycling goal is 23.2 percent.

This year’s waste hauler recycling rate remains nearly the same as last year with a 0.4 percent reduction. This is potentially due to a number of different factors. Manufacturing processes for recycling materials are changing resulting in lighter plastic containers and aluminum cans. According to the National Recycling Coalition, it takes 10,460 more 16-ounce plastic bottles to make up a ton today than in 1998. Locally, issues with contamination may also be causing a slight decline in the waste hauler recycling rate.

Recycling contamination, including nonrecyclable materials in single-stream recycling, can cause safety hazards, degradation of the recyclable material in the load, and increased operating costs for waste haulers and material recycling facilities.

“The fees charged by recycling facilities for contaminated loads may result in more loads of recycling going to the landfill,” states Sustainability Coordinator Jessica Lantgen. “In order to make sure our haulers are able to recycle everything they can, we ask residents and businesses to please follow the guidelines listed below.”

The City’s recycling guidelines include:

• Do recycle tin and aluminum cans; plastic containers such as bottles, tubs, and jugs; cardboard and cartons; and paper such as newspaper, magazines, and office paper.
• Bag shredded paper in a clear plastic bag before putting it in your recycling bin.
• Bag plastic bags together in a clear plastic bag before putting them in your recycling bin.
• All other recyclables should be placed loose (unbagged) in your recycling bin.
• Never put medical, food, pet, or human waste in the recycling bin.
• Electronics, hazardous waste, Styrofoam, ceramics, porcelain, toys, clothing, and garden hoses do not belong in the recycling bin.

Another tracking mechanism used to highlight the region’s recycling efforts, making it easier to compare Sioux Falls to other communities across the country, is the regional recycling rate. Sioux Falls’ 2016 regional recycling rate was 47 percent. This rate takes into account materials recycled at material recovery facilities beyond the weights reported for the waste haulers. Examples would include scrap metal and tire recycling. The most recent report from the United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates the national recycling rate to be 34.6 percent.

“Recycling in a vital part of our local solid waste industry. It conserves natural resources, helps the local economy, and saves valuable space in the landfill. It’s extremely important that everyone in the five-county region does their part to recycle right, so we can recycle more,” says Mark Cotter, Director of Public Works.

For more information about recycling in our region or for a copy of the new recycling guide, please visit