Minneapolis adds new recycling option

The new service will be available to single-family homes, duplexes and triplexes across the city by spring 2016.

Elizabeth Smith

Minneapolis residents are signing up to add another recycling bin to their front yards.

As part of a city-initiated push to eliminate waste, Minnesota Solid Waste and Recycling has plans to roll out an organics recycling program in all Minneapolis neighborhoods by spring 2016.

Green organics carts will become available in waves, beginning in August when about 25 percent of Minneapolis customers can opt in to the new service.

Unlike recycling bins that are currently available for things like cardboard and bottles, residents will use the new option to dispose of things like food scraps, hair and used paper products.

There are currently five drop-off compost sites located throughout Minneapolis. One opened in Van Cleve Park in September.

Ricardo McCurley, director of the Southeast Como Improvement Association, said he uses the Van Cleve drop-off center to dispose of his organic compost. He said he signed up for the new pickup service on Jan. 26, the first day it became available, because of its convenience.

“I drive past Van Cleve every day, but compost is smelly and it leaks,” McCurley said. “I don’t want to have that sitting in my car in the summer.”

About 6,400 households in the city have signed up for the new service so far, said Minneapolis Recycling Coordinator Kellie Kish.

“Organics is a whole new ball game,” Kish said. “We are requiring people to sign up because you need to understand what you’re doing to make sure you’re participating
correctly.”

Program organizers would like residents to sign up by May 4 so they can order the right number of bins, she said.

City officials began discussing the new recycling option in June 2013 when the city switched to one-sort recycling, said Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon, who represents parts of the University of Minnesota and surrounding areas.

After the switch, space became available on streets and alleys for an organics cart, he said.

In January, Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling increased the base fee for every Minneapolis resident they serve by $48 a year to pay for the new service, Kish said.

“If everyone is already paying for it, we’re hoping that everyone will at least try and participate,” she said.

The program is available to single-family homes, duplexes and triplexes, Gordon said, but it excludes apartment buildings because they, and other commercial buildings, are excluded from the city’s trash services.

Gordon said he hopes the current drop-off sites stay open for apartment dwellers to use, even after the curbside pickup is in full swing.

SECIA’s environmental intern  Chris Hinze, who’s also a University student, said he plans to promote the drop-off sites on
campus.

“We really haven’t gotten any feedback from the student body,” he said. “We’re hoping that once I start [promotion efforts], we’ll be able to get their feedback.”

Linden Hills was the first Minneapolis neighborhood to launch a pilot of the new service in 2008. Now, about 50 percent of households in that area use organics recycling, said Felicity Britton, executive director of Linden Hills power and light.

She said initially there was resistance from neighborhood residents because they didn’t understand the process, but after people started the program, they realized that composting was a simple extra step.