Organics recycling sign up starts

Citywide curbside organics collection launches in two phases beginning this August

Expanded curbside organics recycling doesn’t start until August, but Minneapolis residents can sign up now to receive a new green cart for their vegetable trimmings, pizza boxes, coffee grounds and Q-tips.

Currently offered in just eight neighborhoods through a pilot program, organics collection will grow into a citywide service in a little over a year. Phase one of the expansion will make green organics carts available to about 25 percent of Minneapolis solid waste customers in August.

Phase two brings organics recycling to the rest of the city in spring 2016. The service is provided on an opt-in basis, and early sign-ups could determine which customers are included in phase one and which will have to wait, said Minneapolis Recycling Coordinator Kellie Kish.

Kish said more than 1,000 customers had registered for organics recycling as of late January, less than a week after the opt-in period opened. Regardless of whether they want a green cart or not, every Minneapolis household will see a $48 increase in solid waste fees this year to help pay for the service.

About a third of what Minnesotans throw in the garbage is organic waste, according to a 2013 study by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and most of that could be turned into compost. In Minneapolis, almost all household waste that isn’t recycled is incinerated in the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center.

Just more than 50 percent of households participate in the organics-recycling pilot in Linden Hills, which was the first to launch in 2008, according to the city. ECCO joined a year later, and the participation rate there recently was just less than 50 percent. The rate is less than 40 percent for the six neighborhoods added since then.

In conjunction with the Park Board, the city also has opened five organic waste drop-off sites since 2014. The first to open that spring was in Pearl Park, where roughly a ton of organic waste is now deposited each week, Kish said.

She said it isn’t yet decided whether the drop-off sites will remain open after curbside collection goes citywide.

Curbside organics collection will take place weekly on the same day as garbage pickup. The service will be rolled-out route-by-route, and the goal is to include at least part of most Minneapolis neighborhoods in phase one, Kish said.

She said the city is purchasing eight new vehicles to collect organics, and part of the reason for the phased introduction of the service is not all eight will be ready to roll by summer. Initially, at least, the city plans to allow neighbors to share a green cart if they wish (but contact Minneapolis Solid Waste & Recycling first if you plan to do so, Kish said).

Sign up now is by phone (673-2917) or email ([email protected]). The city also plans send postcards in April inviting city residents to opt-in.