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Tuesday
Sep192017

Hennepin County Seeks Feedback on Strategies to Reach Goal of Zero Waste to Landfills

Draft Solid Waste Management Master Plan available for public comment

Hennepin County encourages people to complete a survey and give their feedback on proposed strategies in its draft Solid Waste Management Master Plan. This survey is intended for various stakeholders, including residents and representatives from businesses, cities, haulers and community groups.

The survey, plan and supporting materials are available at www.hennepin.us/solidwasteplanning through October 9. It is anticipated that the county board will consider the plan for approval in November.

Focusing on organics recycling

A primary focus of the plan is diverting organics from the trash. Organics, which include food, food-soiled paper and compostable products, is the biggest opportunity to reduce waste. Waste sort studies continue to show that organics make up the largest proportion of trash: 25 percent.

The county is proposing four key strategies to increase organics diversion:

  1. Require cities to provide residents the opportunity to recycle organics by 2022, with a possible exemption for cities with 10,000 residents or fewer.
  2. Require businesses that generate large quantities of food waste to implement organics recycling by 2020.
  3. Support the expansion of organics recycling in a cost-effective way by increasing local capacity to process organics. Tactics include expanding the county's transfer station in Brooklyn Park to accept more organics; working with private transfer stations to accept organics; and developing additional processing capacity through methods, such as anaerobic digestion, that can produce renewable energy, compost, and fertilizer from organic materials.
  4. Expand efforts to prevent wasted food by providing assistance to businesses and schools and educating residents.

Developing the strategies

Earlier this year, the county gathered input on the plan from 1,500 participants through public engagement.

Overall, the county found that people are willing to do their part to expand organics recycling if it is part of a broader effort to make organics available more widely. Many residents consider organics recycling to be important, with 62 percent of residents indicating they would be very likely to participate in organics recycling programs.

Representatives from businesses and business associations found that the approach to the requirements made sense. The requirements were also palatable to representatives from cities and businesses if they were implemented with county guidance and support.  

About the master plan

State statute requires metropolitan counties to prepare master plans every six years that identify strategies to meet the state’s goal of 75 percent of waste recycled and zero waste landfilled by 2030. The county has made steady progress towards this goal and diverted 82 percent of waste from landfills in 2016, a rate on par with national leaders.

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