Hodges introduces plan for a zero-waste Minneapolis

Mayoral candidate Betsy Hodges outside of the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC). Credit: Photo by Sarah McKenzie

Standing outside the county’s garbage burner earlier this afternoon, mayoral candidate Betsy Hodges unveiled a plan to make Minneapolis a zero-waste city.

She pointed to San Francisco, Seattle and Austin as leaders Minneapolis should model recycling plans after. 

If elected mayor, Hodges would work to increase organics recycling, expand hazardous waste collections, and push for more education to promote recycling and reuse, among other things.

“Zero Waste policy creates a win-win-win for Minneapolis,” she said. “Less trash-burning means less money spent, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and better use of our valuable land. Reusing and recycling our goods means cheaper materials and products for the community. The reuse and recycling process means substantial job creation for Minneapolis residents —  jobs that are to a certain extent paid for by the materials they divert from Minneapolis’ incinerator.”

The city has seen a surge in recycling since rolling out single-sort recycling in some parts of the city, she noted. A review is underway to determine the city’s recycling rate, which has hovered under 20 percent for many years. City leaders are working to boost the recycling rate to 35 percent by 2015. 

Per city ordinance enacted this year, all medium and large events in the city have to recycle glass, plastics, paper and metals. 

The city recently approved a Climate Action Plan, too, that sets a target of 30 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. It also sets a goal of an organics composting rate of 15 percent. 

Achieving a zero-waste status would make the county’s garbage incinerator obsolete, she said.  

“This is the next horizon for us in combating climate change,” she said.