Hennepin County to revise recycling ordinance

Hennepin County is planning on revising its recycling ordinance this year.

The county is considering provisions that would update multifamily recycling requirements and incorporate state recycling requirements for businesses. It’s also considering provisions that would require cities to offer curbside organics recycling by 2022 and require businesses that generate large quantities of food waste to implement food recycling.

The process of revising the ordinance comes several months after the County Board adopted the Solid Waste Management Master Plan for 2018–2023. The plan identifies strategies the county will pursue to reach goals of recycling 75 percent of waste and sending zero waste to landfills by 2030.

The plan says the county should focus on organics recycling, which it says presents the greatest opportunity for the county to reduce trash. It calls on the county to produce requirements for cities and certain businesses when it comes to organics, to increase local capacity to manage organics and to work to prevent food waste.

Dave McNary, assistant director of Hennepin County’s Department of Environmental Services, said organics requirements could extend to restaurants, grocery stores and stadiums.

“Our thought is, if you have one ton of trash per week and if you fit into one of those categories, then you probably have large quantities of organics,” he said.

Organics makes up about 25 percent of the waste stream, McNary noted, adding that he considers Minneapolis and St. Louis Park success stories when it comes to organics recycling. Both cities have voluntary curbside-collection programs, and Minneapolis’ has a participation rate of nearly 44 percent.

McNary said the county is meeting with businesses associations and businesses about the planned ordinance revisions. Andre Xiong, business recycling program coordinator for Minneapolis, stressed that the county plans on assisting businesses in meeting any new requirements.

County staff plan to present the recommended revised ordinance to the County Board this summer.