- Minnesota's Hennepin County plans to put half of all the state recycling funds it receives toward local organics programs by 2020. This year $300,000 of the county's available $3.2 million was used for organics and that could increase to $720,000 out of $3.7 million next year, as reported by the Star Tribune.
- The results of a waste characterization study conducted earlier this year showed that organics comprised 24.9% of material being disposed of by residents.
- Currently 12 of the county's 44 cities have some type of organics program. Minneapolis is the largest one, with a new program that went citywide this year and has attracted 42,500 households.
As expected, the results of this characterization study are similar to what nearby Ramsey and Washington counties found in their own 2014 study. With this added evidence that organics remain the largest portion of recyclable material left in the waste stream, Hennepin can better make the case that municipalities should focus more on recovery options. This will also make progress on the state's goal of a 75% diversion rate for the area by 2030.
Additional county funding will help but these municipalities will still have to weigh the costs of various collection and recycling methods. Larger cities throughout the country have made the investment in curbside collection programs and encouraged the necessary processing infrastructure, but this can sometimes be difficult on a smaller scale. Many of the cities that are taking this on have focused on commercial generators first to establish a steady stream of material and build infrastructure around it.
Hennepin County has made it a priority to reassess other waste-related systems as well. The County Board recently voted to make a significant change in waste-to-energy operators at the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center based on financial factors. By continuing to make big decisions that catch the attention of industry professionals, it is expected that Hennepin County will be one to watch in the near future.