Located in Northeastern Minnesota, St. Louis County, with total area of 7,092 square miles, is the largest county in Minnesota. St. Louis County is known for its spectacular natural beauty, including Voyageurs National Park, Superior National Forest, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, four state parks, and 1,000 lakes, hundreds of miles of rivers and it is the gateway to Lake Superior’s North Shore.
Managing waste in rural areas
While St. Louis County is committed to providing a comprehensive waste management system, low customer density in rural areas can be a challenge for managing waste. In some areas, solid waste increases due to seasonal residents, tourists, and campers. Additionally, St. Louis County has adopted a no-burn resolution, meaning that burning garbage at home or at a campsite is illegal.
The per capita income in St. Louis County is $18,982. To help rural residents, and visitors, manage their waste that’s both economical and environmentally responsible, St. Louis County offers 48 recycling drop-off sites and 27 solid waste sites. Several factors were taken into consideration when they established their permanent drop-off sites including population density and cost.
In areas where establishing permanent sites weren’t practicable, county staff used a little creativity to provide waste management service for residents.
An interesting name for a successful model. Sit sites have no permanent dumpsters or locations; just one garbage truck and its driver parked in a centralized location to accept trash from residents. A centralized location could be at an open lot or on a dirt road near a main roadway. In southwestern St. Louis County, the County signed a two year contact (with an additional one year extension) with a local hauler to provide garbage service in three southwestern townships.
- Floodwood Township
- Cedar Valley Township (Floodwood Lake)
- Prairie Lake Township
Cost to the county
A sit site is not an actual facility, so there’s no operating costs associated with maintaining and staffing a permanent facility. In order to ensure that residents have consistent, convenient, and affordable service the County pays the hauler $35 per hour at Floodwood and $50 per hour at the other locations, Cedar Valley and Praire Lake; equaling to about $12,000 per year for all three sites.
Cost to residents
Area residents pay the hauler $1 for each 40 pound bag of garbage. Residents are responsible for providing their own garbage bags. The hauler also accepts some bulky items for an additional fee but does not accept problem materials, recycling, or hazardous waste.
A list of service areas, hours of operation and the cost to residents are available on St. Louis County’s website.
Overall, this type of waste collection has proven to be an economical option for area residents and the County.
- On average, the hauler collects 377 bags of garbage per month from all three sit sites combined. That’s more than 15,000 pounds of garbage collected each month or roughly 90 tons per year.
- The hauler reported that Monday’s are the most active days for waste collection with an increase in the amount of garbage collected during the summer months.
- Since there is no permanent location (residents are directed to call the hauler directly for hours and location) issues with problem materials have not been a problem. And, if a garbage bag is left near a sit site the hauler works directly with the township to identify and educate the owner of the garbage.
For more information, contact
Terry Soderberg, St. Louis County Environmental Services
John Strukel St. Louis County Environmental Services