Green digest: Minneapolis businesses must offer recycling

Minneapolis businesses must offer recycling

A few weeks before this column was written, Green Digest got a call from a reader who expressed his surprise and frustration that a locally based coffee shop chain did not offer recycling in their stores.

The reader said that, instead of chucking his recyclables in the garbage at the coffee shop, he carried them all the way home and placed them in his own recycling bin. What he may not have realized — and Green Digest, admittedly, did not — was a new city ordinance requiring businesses to offer recycling was just about to go into effect.

As of Sept. 1, city businesses that have garbage service must also offer recycling — pretty much the same rule that applies to residential properties. The change is the result of an amendment to the city’s commercial building ordinance approved in June by the City Council.

The new rule could help push the city closer to its goal of recycling or composting 50 percent of its waste by 2013, up from 35 percent in 2008. Recycling and composting rates have actually slipped slightly in recent years, according to the city’s 2011 Greenprint report.

The new ordinance requires commercial and business property owners to offer regular recycling collection at least two times each month. They must have recycling containers and recycling collection and storage areas, as well as written recycling information for both customers and employees or tenants.

Property owners looking for tips on setting up a new recycling system will find some on the Rethink Recycling website at Hennepin County offers its own tip sheet at


Urban Assault Ride rescheduled for Sept. 11

New Belgium Brewing returns to town Sept. 11 for the Urban Assault Ride, its second fundraiser of the summer for local bicycling organizations.

It will be only the second time the Fort Collins, Colo.-based brewer brings its bicycle-mounted scavenger hunt to Minneapolis, but our city has been a stop on its summer Tour de Fat circuit since 2009. Both events benefit Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists and Minneapolis Off-road Cycling Advocates.

The Urban Assault Ride was scheduled to take place earlier in the summer, but the state government shutdown forced the brewer to reschedule.

Participating two-person teams will set off at 9 a.m. from Peace Coffee, 2801 21st Ave. S., and attempt to reach five checkpoints — plus two “mystery checkpoints” — spread across the city within three hours. Riders must dismount and complete an obstacle course at each stop.

For more information, visit Online registration closes Sept. 9.


Minnehaha Creek Watershed District unveils new website

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District launched a revamped website in August.

Among other things, the new site makes it easier to judge when it’s a good time to paddle the creek. The new website highlights on its main page the daily Gray’s Bay Dam discharge flow rates, which have a significant impact on creek navigability.

Water flowing out of the dam at 75–150 cubic feet per second makes for “good” canoeing conditions. A higher rate could make the creek dangerous, while a lower rate could mean a lot of portaging.

To check out the changes, head to


Minneapolis schools win county waste grant

Minneapolis Public Schools plans to expand organics recycling to more school sites after winning a share of $150,000 worth of waste-abatement grants approved by the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners Aug. 16.

The $15,000 awarded Minneapolis schools was one of six grants to school districts in this round intended to support programs that teach students about waste management and organic waste. Minneapolis Public Schools has won more than $70,000 in county grants since Hennepin County established the Waste Abatement Incentive Fund in 1999.

The district has offered organics recycling at 30 of its 52 school sites since the 2009–2010 school year, diverting about 143 tons of organic waste from landfills in that time. This most recent grant will allow the district to enroll an additional five to 10 school sites in the organics recycling program this school year.

According to the district’s grant application, grant funds also will support development of an “organics start-up and sustainability toolkit” that collects and condenses best-practices information from the 30 school sites already offering organics recycling. The district plans to further develop its Let’s R.O.T. (“Reduce Our Trash”) curriculum for youth leaders, developing a core of students trained to lead recycling efforts in their schools.

To learn more about the Let’s R.O.T. campaign, the district’s organics recycling efforts or its other green initiatives, visit the MPS Goes Green website at