Contamination poses roadblock for Marcy-Holmes organics recycling

City officials are exploring at the possibility of adding organics in Holmes Park after receiving multiple requests from residents.

Community use organics drop-off bins are seen at Van Cleve Park on Friday, Feb. 21.

Yves De Jesus

Community use organics drop-off bins are seen at Van Cleve Park on Friday, Feb. 21.

Yves De Jesus

While residents push for organics recycling at a Marcy-Holmes park, issues with contamination are forcing city officials to proceed with caution. 

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, along with city staff, is currently examining the possibility of adding an organics collection site at Holmes Park after residents expressed interest in the program. The move is part of a larger effort by the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood to expand organics recycling accessibility. 

While the neighborhood does not have any organics collection in its park, Van Cleve Park in Como is one of nine drop-off sites citywide.         

“I’ve had a lot of students come to me trying to find a place to compost their organics,” said Park Board Commissioner Chris Meyer. “So I’ve been looking into expanding that at Holmes Park in Marcy-Holmes neighborhood the same way Van Cleve has one.”           

Meyer met with residents and Park Board staff about starting an organics composting program at Holmes Park earlier this month.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

In an emailed statement to the Minnesota Daily, the city of Minneapolis recycling coordinator Kellie Kish said Holmes Park is an unlikely candidate for an organics program because it does not have infrastructure for staff to monitor and maintain the bins. This infrastructure would include a parking lot and a recreation center. 

“It’s not a good fit at this time because we don’t have staff there to help do it,” said Linden Weiswerda,who tracks and assesses maintenance operations for the park system. “But there’s plenty of other places where we are trying to expand it.” 

City staff are responsible for emptying out organics bins and bringing them to a composting facility in Rosemount. Without proper infrastructure and staffing, organics bins in Holmes Park could become contaminated with plastic and other non-compostable materials, Weiswerda said. 

“We don’t want to put [bins] out there and then end up contaminated and [then] have to go into the landfill,” Weiswerda said. “What we want to do is do it intentionally and do it really well.”

Outside of Holmes Park, Marcy-Holmes community members are looking at other ways to expand organics recycling options, said Jessica Focht-Perlberg of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association. 

“We’re also partnering with a few different communities in the neighborhood who are interested in possibly seeing what they can do to possibly offer additional public drop-off spots or sites for people in apartment buildings,” she said.

Joe Schaedler was one of the residents to ask for a public organics recycling in the neighborhood. He said having the infrastructure in place will make composting easier for the average consumer. 

“The idea is about creating the infrastructure for the conscientious consumers to take the action that’s possible to improve,” Schaedler said. “The more infrastructure there is for this, the more we can make it functional, and the more beneficial we make it for the environment.”

In addition to the nine existing sites, Weiswerda said Park Board and city staff will continue efforts to identify other locations for organics recycling. 

“So it’d be great if we could just throw an organic container out there, but if we do, it’s going to get filled with glass,” Weiswerda said. “So we’re trying to avoid organics programs [that] just turn into trash.”

Correction: A previous version of this story mischaracterized Linden Weiswerda’s role in the park system. He tracks and assesses maintenance operations for the system.