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Good Question: Where Does The Stuff Street Sweepers Pick Up Go?

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ROSEVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) –  They are some of the busiest of all city workers this time of year and you’d definitely notice if they didn’t show up to work:  Street sweepers.

We had one eco-friendly viewer write us to see:  What happens to all the sand and leaves the street sweepers pick up?

Keeping streets clean isn’t the only benefit of the street sweepers. In fact, their main purpose is to keep the storm water system clean. By picking up the debris that street sides collect, it saves the city from filtering costs.

WCCO-TV introduces one city with a particularly green approach. You can add street sweepers to the long list of early birds that are making a March debut this spring.

“We actually finished our first round of street sweeping throughout the city last Friday,” said Duane Schwartz, the public works director with the City of Roseville.

Schwartz says among the things found in the sweepings are yard waste, leaves and small twigs.  Notice he didn’t include sand in the mix. Roseville, along with most cities in the metro, said goodbye to sand as their primary source for ice control years ago.

“Very little benefit provided by that sand unless it’s extremely cold out,” Schwartz said.

In its place, they use ice melting chemicals that are said to be harmless as they are diluted with rain and snow melt. Roseville officials say that’s why they’re able to compost the vast majority.

“We have our own compost site here in Roseville.  We actually collect residents’ leaves in the fall and then we offer it back to them as finished compost,” Schwartz said.  “We actually go through about several thousand cubic yards per year.”

The small amount that’s not turned into compost, like traces of trash, is hauled to a landfill where it also has an eco-friendly use. The sweepings are used to cover the large pile of garbage.

The City of Minneapolis says this time of year, they also take their sweepings to a landfill to be used as topper. Come fall, once there’s mostly leaves, they pay a contractor to make compost.

As for the City of St. Paul, their sweepings are picked up and disposed by a contractor. Roseville says they’re proud to offer a program that benefits their residents, all while promoting green.

“They love our compost and essentially they utilize every bit of leaves that we recycle,” Schwartz said.

Several of the cities in the metro, Roseville included, will start their next round of street sweeping come May. One thing that your city’s public works department really asks from you:  Check the sweeping schedules posted in the city’s website and make sure your car is not in the way.

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