U students push for recycling law

Students are proposing an ordinance requiring businesses to recycle.

by Raghav Mehta

A proposed city ordinance being pushed by University of Minnesota students could change the way Minneapolis businesses handle their bottles and cans. Commercial recycling is currently unregulated in Minneapolis, and there is no requirement that businesses recycle, even though businesses are âÄúsome of the largest individual producers of recyclable materials,âÄù political science junior Adam Luesse said. Luesse and members of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) are leading an initiative calling for a citywide ordinance requiring commercial businesses to recycle more of their waste. âÄúItâÄôs the responsible thing to do. Commercial recycling will bring jobs, healthier business, potential revenue and, most importantly, sustainability to the city,âÄù Luesse said. The âÄúhands-on approach to commercial recyclingâÄù used by other cities like San Francisco and Washington, D.C., will serve as a model for MinneapolisâÄô program if an ordinance is passed. Luesse said the recycling program would initially be paid for by a surcharge to businesses, but over time, revenue from increased recycling would provide additional funding. Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon has agreed to introduce the ordinance to the council âÄî something Luesse expects to happen in January. âÄúWe have too much garbage going through our burner and landfills,âÄù Gordon said, âÄúso weâÄôre trying to find those ways to get that stuff out and recycle.âÄù MPIRG members compiled a report with research detailing various commercial recycling in cities across the United States, which they presented to local government officials. The report covers program structures and enforcement policies, project coordinator Joseph Eggers said. San FranciscoâÄôs recycling program has businesses sort their waste into recyclable, compost and trash components. Depending on the proportion of waste that is diverted to be recycled, businesses receive rebates of up to 75 percent of their bill. Both Eggers and Luesse said San FranciscoâÄôs program is one theyâÄôd like to model MinneapolisâÄô commercial program after. âÄúItâÄôs publicly funded, and they reduce the amount of waste going to their landfills by 75 percent,âÄù Eggers said. Washington, D.C.âÄôs program requires haulers to measure and report the amount of recycling they pick up. In addition, commercial establishments submit an official recycling plan twice a year that includes selecting a recycling coordinator, contracting recycling pickup and educating employees and customers about the program. According to the MPIRG report, city inspectors monitor businessesâÄô compliance with recycling laws, and violators receive fines ranging from $25 to $1,000. The Library Bar and Grill currently does limited recycling, and Manager Kitrick Meyers said he thought a citywide recycling ordinance is a good way to get businesses to expand their recycling practices. âÄúOnce everybody gets used to the idea of recycling and throwing empty bottles and cans into the proper bins, I donâÄôt see it being that big of a deal,âÄù he said.