Hennepin County, Minnesota, requires organics recycling

Hennepin County, Minnesota, requires organics recycling

Under new ordinance, cities and some businesses must offer organics recycling service.

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November 29, 2018
Edited by Kelly Maile

Hennepin County board of commissioners on Tuesday made the first changes to the county’s recycling ordinance since it was created in 1986, according a press release.

The revisions require cities to offer organics recycling service to residents by 2022. In addition, businesses that generate "large quantities of food waste" must implement food waste recycling by 2020. The requirement applies to businesses that can implement organics recycling in a cost-effective way, the county says.

About 30 percent of trash is made up of organic materials. Recycling food and other organic materials is how the county plans to achieve its goals of zero waste to landfill by 2030.

“Hennepin County residents are strongly interested in environmental protection and organics recycling helps them achieve that goal,” county board chair Jan Callison says. “We were able to actively engage with the local communities, cities and businesses to create a common-sense approach to organics requirements that makes implementing organics recycling manageable for city partners and businesses.”

The release says the benefits of organics recycling include feeding people in need, composting for healthier soils, creating energy through anaerobic digestion and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, especially methane that is generated from the decomposition of organic materials in landfills.

“Organic materials are a resource, not waste,” Public Works committee chair Mike Opat says. “This is the next step in the evolution of how we deal with our garbage.”

Under the ordinance, restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, residential care facilities and office buildings with dining services must offer food waste recycling bins by Jan. 1, 2020. Large generators are defined by businesses that generate one ton of trash or more per week.

Cities with a population of 10,000 or less can opt out of organics recycling service, but “must provide at least one organics recycling drop-off site,” the release says.

Other requirements include multifamily properties must provide recycling education to residents.

The county has the authority to issue warnings or citations for noncompliance.