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Growing Sioux Falls Population Recycling Less

While Governor Kristi Noem has increased the rate of talking points recycled from Fox News and Breitbart, the trashy people she’s bringing to South Dakota are dragging down the overall recycling rate in Sioux Falls:

Alongside issues of plastic bags, data from Sioux Falls commercial garbage haulers in 2022 showed the overall recycling rate was 18.7% short of the recycling goal of 20.5%.

Five years ago, Sioux Falls area haulers reported a 23.4% recycling rate. The national average recycling rate was 32% in 2022, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“With a population increase, we noticed that recycling has been going down the last few years,” Dwire said. “That was a red flag to us that maybe we need to do a little better” [Eric Mayer, “4 Years After Ban, Plastic Bags Still and Issue for Recycling Industry,” KELO-TV, 2023.08.22].

A March 2021 report from international enviroconsultants Eunomia and the Ball Corporation found South Dakotans recycling 36% of common containers and packaging materials, including cardboard. That’s the 28th-best rate in the nation. 14 states, including Minnesota and Iowa, recycle more than 50% of common containers and packaging.

Eunomia and Ball Corporation, "The 50 States of Recycling: A State-by-State Assessment of Containers and Packaging Recycling Rates," March 2021, p. 19.
Eunomia and Ball Corporation, “The 50 States of Recycling: A State-by-State Assessment of Containers and Packaging Recycling Rates,” March 2021, p. 19.

Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index says the United States recycles only 14.8% of recyclable materials, which ranks us 105th globally, just a little better than Jordan and Kyrgyzstan but just behind Djibouti, Nicaragua, Lebanon, and Jamaica. Seven nations—Singapore, Vanuatu, Australia, Iceland, Benin, Samoa, and South Korea—recycle more then 50% of their recyclable material. Maybe the Governor should work on getting more South Koreans to move to South Dakota.


  1. P. Aitch 2023-08-23 07:53

    Colorado outlawed stores from giving away plastic bags for groceries and retail purchases this year. Kroger and Safeway sell them for a dime each and Walmart has zero plastic bags allowed in their stores. Using cloth carry home bags is habit now. Of course, the people who have difficulty with change complained. After eight months even the MAGA’s who complained are adjusting, though. Our landfills and recycling centers are thankful.

  2. Ben Cerwinske 2023-08-23 07:57

    It may in part be because we’ve learned how ineffective individual efforts to recycle are. Instead, I just try to avoid unnecessary waste in the first place.

  3. Jake Kammerer 2023-08-23 09:14

    It takes leadership, doesn’t it? And leadership of higher quality in this MAGA infected world of today is lacking terribly; where would we be without the leadership of the Biden Administration?

  4. All Mammal 2023-08-23 11:50

    I’ll do better and then pester and annoy everyone I know to do better. Once we see these numbers and who all outdid us, the challenge is on. We’re comin for you, Singapore!

  5. jkl 2023-08-23 11:53

    Weren’t there communities in SD considering to ban plastic shopping bags and the SD state legislator passed a law making it illegal for these communities to do so?

  6. P. Aitch 2023-08-23 13:10

    PS … Colorado also banned Styrofoam containers. You know. The kind McDon’s still uses in states with “freedom”. Heh heh HO!

  7. Ryan 2023-08-23 16:14

    thank jebus there is somebody on here willing to tell us about the local laws of colorado… without plastic bags, it is more difficult for those folks to collect and sniff their own farts, but by golly, they are finding new and creative ways to do so.

  8. Arlo Blundt 2023-08-23 20:38

    I note with interest Florida has a 42% recycling rate, not in the top ten but leading the Southern Red States. In my time there, I have noticed that the elderly, many from New york, New Jersey and New England, enthusiastically recycle. They roam the beaches with “picker uppers” collecting plastic bottles and other trash. The other demographic groups in Florida are still chuckin beer bottles of of pick-up windows and dumping off full trash bags on street corners, if not just dumping out trash whenever and where ever they can get away with it. Without the elderly retirees the state would be a trash can with nice sunsets.

  9. Linda 2023-08-23 20:49

    I think that banning plastic grocery bags just creates another revenue stream for retailers. Many plastic grocery bags are recycled in homes, and reused as garbage bags or other uses. When they are banned, sales of plastic trash bags, made by Hefty or Glad, increase.

    Also, plastic going out the front door of the store is minimal, compared to the vast amount of plastic that comes in through the store’s back door. Nearly every pallet of goods that arrives in the back of a semi trailer, is shrink wrapped. They must shrink wrap most pallets, to keep them stable. Walmarts have two box squisher machines in their backrooms. One is for cardboard, and one is for plastic. They receive huge amounts of plastic, every day, with every truck.

    We recycle all our aluminum cans, and haul them to the recycling place twice a year, and we also take few random vehicle batteries, too. We support the idea of recycling. But banning plastic bags is not the way to do it.

  10. larry kurtz 2023-08-24 09:26

    Santa Fe County ships nearly all the aluminum and steel harvested from the municipal waste stream to Colorado where Denver and Boulder are among the best cities for doing recycling right. Reunity Resources has stepped up to compost food scraps, organics, wood and yard waste for garden soil.

    Operated jointly by the city and county the Santa Fe Solid Waste Management Agency, Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station recycles 10,400 tons of material annually and contracts with Albuquerque-based Town Recycling to run it.

    While all of the cardboard sorted out stays in New Mexico to become packaging and newspapers mixed baled cardboard, paper or containers, some of which includes both plastics and metals, are shipped to Waste Management in Denver where it is further sorted or to Mexico and is turned into egg cartons or cellulose insulation.

    Electronics are trucked to Natural Evolution in Tulsa, Oklahoma and tires go to Texas where they’re shredded and added to asphalt. In 2022 the agency recycled 1,702 tons of glass or about 76 truckloads sold at $36 per ton to a Broomfield, Colorado company where it is turned into new bottles. In Pueblo, Ecologic Materials Corp. is recycling shrink wrap and adding it to asphalt.

  11. Shannon Dwire 2023-10-28 10:53

    Please note that the Ball report is not accurate. South Dakota has not polled recycling numbers since 2011 and that data was on a voluntary basis. When questioned they admitted to averaging numbers across states.

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