Hennepin County Cities Mark One Month Into Organics Recycling Mandate
Since Jan. 1, all cities in Hennepin County have had to have some form of organics recycling program in place, whether it be curbside collection or a drop-off site.
“It is early on, but when you look at any new program, there will be some growing pains,” said Ben Knudson, a supervisor in Hennepin County’s waste reduction and recycling unit. “But we’re really excited about how it’s going so far because people have access to something they didn’t before.”
Knudson partners with local cities to help them implement their organics recycling programs. It’s an important tool to help keep food waste out of the trash.
“At a compost site, you create a nutrient-rich material,” Knudson said, when asked about why it’s important to recycle organic materials. “At a landfill, organics cause problems. They create methane. That’s a potent greenhouse gas and you have to clean up landfills later on, and that costs a lot of money.”
Speaking of money, some Hennepin County cities, like Golden Valley, require all residents to pay a flat fee for the service whether they use it or not.
Other cities, like Maple Grove, are leaving it up to residents to contact their individual waste hauler to sign up. The fees are set by the trash hauling companies.
“In most cities the cost is around $5 a month,” Knudson said. “But I think the way we can help is, again through education and outreach. Because as more people sign up, there will be an efficiency to collecting organics.”
Despite the differences and varying costs among cities, there is one constant of what organic material to recycle — think food waste and food-soiled paper.
For Knudson, education will be key.
“It’s taking some baby steps at the beginning,” he said.