Minneapolis switches recycling provider

Eureka Recycling is slotted to replace Waste Management by next winter.

by Eliana Schreiber

Minneapolis is dumping its former recycling provider for a more localized and sustainable option.
Eureka Recycling, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit recycling company, will replace Waste Management as the city of Minneapolis’ recycling service. The contract begins next winter.
Minneapolis is currently in the first extension year of its contract with Waste Management, the largest waste removal service in the nation. The city originally signed a three-year contract with the corporation, with the option of two one-year extensions, Minneapolis Director of Waste and Recycling David Herberholz said. The new contract with Eureka will be a five-year contract, he said.
In the initial pre-proposal contract last October, five vendors presented proposals, but ultimately only two companies — Eureka and Waste Management —submitted bids, he said.
After comparing the proposals, the committee decided to choose Eureka based on its lower processing fee, Herberholz said.
“They both have the 
ability to handle our material, and they’re both very close and within the city of Minneapolis,” he said.
Eureka is currently entering contract negotiations with the public works staff, Eureka Chief of Community Engagement Lynn Hoffman said.
Eureka has processed St. Paul’s recycling for the past 15 years, Hoffman said.
“We’d like to have a presence in both cities,” she said.
As a nonprofit organization, waste reduction is part of Eureka’s mission, Hoffman said. 
Hoffman said Eureka processes its recycling in the Twin Cities. This benefits the local economy and reduces the environmental impact of the process, she said.
Eureka also pays all their sorters and only hires full-time employees, Hoffman said.
“How you recycle really matters,” Hoffman said. “We pay attention to a lot of those details because we’re mission-driven.”
University of Minnesota biosystems and bioproducts engineering professor Jason Hill also stressed the importance of ethical recycling and said that it helps curb unnecessary pollution.
“Recycling allows us not only to use less but to control the fate of the resources we do have,” Hill said.
Waste Management felt they had submitted a solid bid for the work on the recycling processing contract, spokesperson Julie Ketchum said.
“We appreciate the business with the city of Minneapolis, and we look forward to future opportunities with [them],” Ketchum said.
Ketchum said the bid Waste Management gave intended to keep recycling sustainable. 
“The luxury we have here in Minneapolis is, even though recycling markets are really tough right now … we’ve got three very viable recycling facilities right in the city,” Herberholz said.
There are benefits to both multinational companies and nonprofit recycling companies, biosystems and bioproducts engineering professor Brett Barney said, adding it’s not a black-and-white issue in terms of impact.
Barney, who teaches a course about recycling, said recycling companies need to operate on a large scale in order to make a profit.
“It’s really hard because you’re comparing a local company to a multinational,” he said.
The locality of Eureka means the revenues will help industries within Minnesota, Barney said.
“They’re not trying to generate a revenue of profit, but they still have to meet a lot of the demands that … another business would have to meet,” he said.