Green digest: One-sort recycling

One-sort recycling comes to ECCO

ECCO — If the day comes when Minneapolis residents no longer have to sort their cans, glass and newspaper into different brown paper bags for recycling, the ECCO neighborhood might have something to do with it.

ECCO is one of two neighborhoods where the city and county plan to test a one-sort recycling pilot program. Starting this month, residents of both ECCO and the Willard-Hay neighborhood on the city’s North Side will trade in their recycling bins for a new one-sort cart — no bags or separating necessary.

In the past, Minneapolitans who wondered why they had to go through the trouble of sorting their recycling might have come across this explanation on the city’s website: “If the City of Minneapolis used single-stream recycling (all recycling in one bin, as some areas do), the higher cost of processing these materials would result in lower revenue, and possible cuts in other waste services.”

The one-year pilot program is designed to test that claim.

During the test run, the city staff will track the amount of recyclables set out by residents in both neighborhoods to see if making it easier to recycle encourages them to recycle more. They’ll also test the marketability of the recyclables, which are resold for processing after collection. And they’ll compare the overall cost of one-sort to multi-sort.

The results will be presented to the City Council, and could change the way the whole city recycles.

Angie Timmons of Hennepin County Environmental Services said the city was conducting a two-sort pilot simultaneously in the Seward neighborhood, where residents put paper-based recyclables in one bin and all containers — glass, aluminum or plastic — in another. So, a year from now, the city will have a much better understanding of which recycling system its residents — and the companies that buy their recyclable trash — prefer.

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Energy program goes citywide

Community Energy Services, the residential energy efficiency program typically offered through Minneapolis neighborhood organizations, is now available to any Minneapolis homeowner as of Aug. 1.

Over 4,000 city residents have already participated in the program, which is designed to help homeowners achieve greater energy efficiency in their homes and save money on utility bills. The program is now open to any owner-occupied single-family, duplex, triplex or fourplex home in the city.

After attending a Community Energy Services workshop, homeowners sign up for a free home visit from energy efficiency experts who evaluate the property’s energy efficiency and offer suggestions for reducing the use of natural gas and electricity. Homeowners receive up to $400 worth of energy efficiency products for a co-pay of $30, as well as help in installing some of the products.

Homeowners who decide to tackle bigger efficiency projects, like installing new attic insulation, can get help finding financing or incentives and a qualified contractor. All program participants receive an inventory of their home’s energy use over the previous year as well as monitoring for the next year to show the impact of any energy efficiency improvements to their property.

Attending a free community workshop is required to enroll in the program. To find an upcoming workshop, visit mnces.org.

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Metro Blooms greening Linden Hills

LINDEN HILLS — Homeowners in the Linden Hills neighborhood are invited to learn more about opportunities for discounted rain garden design and installation this month.

Metro Blooms, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council Environment Committee teamed-up to offer 50 neighborhood property owners discounts on storm water management plans for their yards. Thirty of them will be selected for free rain garden design and excavation services from Metro Blooms.

Program participants must have previously attended a Metro Blooms rain garden workshop, held at multiple sites across the metro area every spring.

Linden Hills resident Pamela Jewson was scheduled to host one of two August rain garden parties where neighborhood residents could learn more about the rain garden opportunties. Last spring, Jewson was the 5,000th person to attend a Metro Blooms rain garden workshop and won a free rain garden from Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and EcoScapes Landscaping.

Although the Jewson party was held before this issue of the Southwest Journal went to press, Linden Hills residents have a second opportunity to learn about the rain garden opportunities 7 p.m.–8 p.m. Aug. 23 at an Abbott Avenue residence. For more information, or to RSVP, contact Barb Speltz at 801-9321 or [email protected]

Watershed district proposes flat levy

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers is proposing a zero-percent increase to its property tax levy in 2012.

The board met Aug. 11 to approve a preliminary 2012 budget that holds the tax levy flat at $7,742,005. Its share of property taxes on a median-value ($248,600) Hennepin County home is about $3 per month.

A public hearing on the budget and levy is 6:45 p.m. Sept. 1 at the district headquarters, 18202 Minnetonka Boulevard in Deephaven. A vote on the 2012 budget was set for Sept. 8.