Minnesota county mandates commercial and residential organics recycling
- The board of commissioners in Hennepin County, Minnesota — of which Minneapolis is the county seat —approved revisions to its recycling ordinance that include new requirements for cities and businesses. The county will be able to enforce new requirements with warnings and citations.
- The biggest change includes requiring businesses that generate large quantities of food waste — such as restaurants, grocery stores and hotels — to implement organics recycling by January 1, 2020. Cities will be required to offer organics services to all residences with traditional curbside recycling service by January 1, 2022. Cities smaller than 10,000 residents will be allowed to provide at least one organics drop-off site instead.
- Other ordinance revisions pertain to improving traditional recycling at businesses and multi-family residences. For example, multi-family residences must provide recycling education and recycling containers in common spaces.
The ordinance updates don't necessarily mean entities haven't already been recycling organic material. Hennepin County is known for its action around organics and a number of businesses and cities, including Minneapolis, offer or participate in voluntary organics programs.
Last year, Minneapolis reported lower than anticipated volumes of organics collected through the program, which launched in 2015. But less than a year ago, it was revealed that the sudden increased participation in organics programs throughout the Twin Cities region was straining the capacity at local compost sites. The new mandates could further stress those facilities, as could the state requirements to recycle and compost 75% of solid waste by 2030, until regional processing capacity is expanded. The economy of scale related to mandating organics programs should make expansion a more economically viable option for both public and private operators.
Hennepin County is the latest in a series of local governments to expand or enact organics diversion requirements this year. The Metro Council – which oversees waste services in the Portland, Oregon region – passed its own commercial ordinance in July. Austin, Texas also finished phasing in existing commercial organics diversion requirements this year. These local governments join a small, but growing number of with similar policies throughout the country.
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