Recycling will become easier for Minneapolis residents

The switch to single-sort recycling can nearly double recycling rates.

Recycling will become easier for Minneapolis residents

Bryna Godar


Instead of separating office paper from newspaper and plastic bottles from glass, Minneapolis residents will be able to dump all recyclables into the same bin with the city’s switch to single-sort recycling starting next year.

The change won’t affect on-campus recycling in buildings or residence halls, but it will simplify the process for students living in neighborhoods near campus.

“I think it’ll be more convenient,” said Erin Diamond, a University of Minnesota speech language hearing sciences and Spanish junior. “[Sometimes] it’s just too much work to figure out where it goes, so I just throw it in the trash.”

The city’s recycling rate has been stagnant for years, hovering at around 18 percent and declining slightly in the last couple years, according to city reports.

A study by the city of Minneapolis found that single-sort recycling could nearly double this, achieving a 32 percent recycling rate city-wide.

Some students said although the current system isn’t too much of a hassle, they would probably recycle more with a single-sort system.

“It would sure make it easier,” mechanical engineering junior Anthony Smith  said.

Councilman Cam Gordon  said the city used to be a pioneer in recycling, but most other cities in the county have since switched to two-sort or single-sort systems, surpassing Minneapolis.

“I’d say it’s been a long and slow road,” Gordon said.

Minneapolis residents currently have to sort recyclables into seven categories, bagging or bundling each group properly. If the recycling is not acceptable, crews do not pick it up.

“Knowing what plastics to throw in each bin was difficult at first,” Smith said.

Marissa Gillespie, a strategic communications senior, said in her hometown, St. Cloud, Minn., they don’t have to separate recycling.

 “When I lived in an apartment, I pretty much just threw everything in the garbage,” she said.

Now that she lives in a house, she said she does recycle.

“It’s easy because [the city gives] us bins,” she said.

The state of Minnesota has set new waste recovery goals for Hennepin County, which include a 45 percent recycling rate by 2015. The county’s goal for Minneapolis is 35 percent.

St. Paul, which has a dual-sort system, currently has a recycling rate of 30 percent, according to a Minneapolis report.

The City Council approved the plan in late May.

Multi-sort and two-sort systems keep papers and cardboard free of contamination from the other recycling, but Gordon said the recyclers determined it doesn’t make that much of a difference.

“[Single-sort] will also potentially cost less,” Gordon said.

The city still has to determine the cost of switching to the new system and a timeline for implementing it, but the transition is slated for sometime next year.

The city will have to provide new recycling bins to every residence.