Curbside Compost Pick-Up Could Come to Mpls with Hennepin County's Prodding

Updated: 02/11/2014 7:17 AM
Created: 02/04/2014 6:31 PM
By: Kate Renner

Hennepin County is taking steps forward in encouraging its cities to start picking up compost along with the weekly trash. They're focusing their attention first on making changes in the City of Minneapolis.

With every meal prepared comes a handful of organic waste, but Felicity Britton doesn't throw her potato peels in the trash.

"We have a small compost container, and then when that's full, we take it out to the curb in the green cart, and the city comes and takes it away," said Britton, Executive Director of Linden Hills Power and Light, a neighborhood non-profit.

Britton's Linden Hills neighborhood is part of a pilot program started in 2008 to gauge the interest of a city-wide pick-up program for compost. Britton says about 52 percent of the people in Linden Hills are participating. Britton wants to see this program all across the city and so does Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin.

"What we're saying, if you don't have a composting program in place, we're going to reduce the amount of funding we're going to send to your particular city," McLaughlin said.

A resolution to be voted on Tuesday, Feb. 11, would strongly and financially encourage the City of Minneapolis to create a compost pick-up program by the end of the 2014.

What can all go inside a compost bin? It's more than just kitchen scraps and egg shells, the list includes pizza boxes, paper cups and paper plates, full vacuum bags, and even dryer lint.

When Brooklyn Park resident Gregory Livingston was asked, "Would you be willing to compost if the City of Minneapolis gave you a compost bin?" Livingston said, “Yes I will, it saves the environment, plus it's less waste." But when the follow-up question was asked, "What if it cost you a little money?" Livingston said "I have a problem with that because I'm working on a tight budget already."

Commissioner McLaughlin said how much, if any cost, would be passed on to homeowners depends on policies yet to be made.

"There's enough money moving around in this system right now that it's not going to be substantial, and it may not result in any increase in cost," McLaughlin said.

The City of Minneapolis Director of Public Works Steve Kotke says they have been looking into providing organic pick-up for a long time and are currently studying the logistics of cost, and making the program voluntary.

Kotke says Hennepin County's goal to have a program in place by the end of the year isn't impossible, but it's very aggressive.

The Hennepin County Commission meets on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.

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