Hennepin County Could Change How Residents Recycle

February 20, 2018 06:24 PM

Hennepin County leadership wants to change the way its residents recycle.

It's part of an effort to recycle 75 percent of the county's waste by 2030, and the new plan could change a few things, all of the way from the kitchen to the dump.


"Organics is the – pardon the pun – is the low-hanging fruit," said Hennepin County Environment and Energy Department Supervising Environmentalist Paul Kroening.

RELATED: Washington and Ramsey Counties Burning All Waste, Exploring Better Options for the Future

Organics recycling generally refers to food waste. Right now that waste accounts for about 19 percent of what county residents throw in their trash. Only a couple of cities – like Minneapolis and St. Louis Park – offer to recycle it.

That, however, could change if county commissioners revise their recycling ordinance, which could happen as early as this fall.

"Most people are going to need some sort of container, some sort of countertop container or container that's underneath their sink to collect their organics before they take it out or put it in their cart," Kroening explained.

Here's the problem: Hennepin County residents generate about 1.4 million tons of solid waste every year. Right now, only about 3 percent of that ends up in organics recycling. The hope is that by introducing countywide organics recycling, the 3 percent figure increases to more than 15 percent.

RELATED: Coke aims to recycle a bottle for each it sells by 2030

There's a lot of room to grow, according to Matt Hanson, the scale house supervisor at the Brooklyn Park transfer station, where much of the county's trash is routed. He said about a third of the waste that ends up in the station's trash piles could've been sent to organics recycling instead.

If approved, the new organics recycling program likely would not begin until 2022, and it would be voluntary for residents.

The county is working on a separate initiative that would require businesses that generate a lot of food waste to recycle it. That initiative could kick in as early as 2020.


Josh Rosenthal

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