BioCycle Magazine

Residential Organics Collection Options


Courtesy of Courtesy of BioCycle Magazine

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A suburb in Minnesota's Twin Cities builds on its successful pilot program to add food residuals and nonrecyclable paper to its weekly curbside collection.

IN MID-MAY, the City Council in Wayzata , Minnesota voted to add organics (food residuals and nonrecyclable papers) collection to its curbside recycling program, making the western suburb the first city in the Twin Cities metro area to provide such a service.

For the past two years, Wayzata and Hennepin County have piloted a program to determine the costs and benefits of expanding the city's recycling program. The new system is designed to reduce monthly collection fees to households that change to every-other-week garbage collection. Since the start of the organics program, 189 tons of organic materials have been collected for composting.

Residents separate the biodegradable portion from their trash, including food scraps, nonrecyclable paper such as pizza boxes and paper towels, and even vacuum cleaner bags and dryer lint. Once a week, residents put out their organics cart next to their recycling bin for pick-up. The material is then delivered to NRG Processing Solutions in Empire Township in Dakota County where it is composted.

The finished compost is typically used in professional landscaping and road construction projects. As BioCycle readers understand, using compost revitalizes soils, reduces soil erosion, and prevents stormwater runoff from contaminating wetlands, lakes and streams.

County and city officials are pleased with the results of this innovative pilot project. More than 70 percent of the 1,200 households in Wayzata participated in the pilot program, resulting in a 12 percent reduction in garbage and a 23 percent increase in recycling in Wayzata.

“At a time when waste per capita is increasing and recycling rates are stagnant, a 12 percent reduction in garbage is an extraordinary success,” points out County Commissioner Linda Koblick, who represents the 6th District, which includes Wayzata. Officials said organics composting is an untapped opportunity for the county to reduce the amount of trash that has to be processed at a waste-to-energy facility or landfilled. “Wayzata's outstanding leadership with this project has provided valuable information necessary to determine how to expand organics recycling and make it cost effective throughout the county,” adds Commissioner Koblick.

This project was made possible through grants from Hennepin County and the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board. Hennepin County is also working on pilot projects with 40 schools in the Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Robbinsdale school districts, as well as collecting organics at the County's Adult Corrections Facility in Plymouth and Environmental Services Building in Minneapolis. More details on these programs will be published in a coming issue of BioCycle.

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