Curbside organics recycling
Starting the week of March 7, 2022, residents with City garbage and recycling service can conveniently recycle their organics for composting at the curb. About 30 percent of trash is made up of food scraps and other material that could be composted. Like regular recycling, all households will see a monthly charge for organics recycling on their utility bill after the program begins in March 2022. There is no additional cost to receive an organics cart, but sign up is required.
How it works
- Sign up by December 1, 2021 to receive your organics cart by March 7. If you sign up between December 1 – April 1 you will receive your cart in mid-April. Those who sign up after April 1 will receive their cart on an on-going basis.
- You will receive a 30-gallon organics cart that will be collected weekly on the same day as your garbage.
- A welcome kit will be dropped off with your organics cart when it is delivered that includes a starter set of compostable plastic bags, home setup tips, and a reference guide refrigerator magnet.
How to get started collecting organics
1. Set up a container: You can use an ice cream pail, coffee can or cottage cheese tub. You can convert an existing garbage can into an organics container. Or you can buy a kitchen pail from a grocery, hardware or other retail store, or order one online.
If you'd like a label for your organics container, you can order one through Hennepin County.
2. Sort it: Start with food, and then add other compostable items. Food scraps are the most common material in the trash, so it's especially important to collect them for organics recycling. When you're in a groove with sorting your food scraps, start collecting other compostable items. Compost other items like paper towels, napkins and compostable take out containers. For a full list of what you can and can't place in your cart, check out the "accepted materials" section below.
3. Bag It: Organics must be bagged for collection. This helps organics come out of your cart easily and reduces pests and odors.
- Brown paper bags are compostable and you can use them for your organics recycling.
- Certified compostable plastic bags are often carried in grocery stores, hardware stores, large retail stores and sometimes in garden stores and nurseries. You can also search online for "BPI compostable plastic bags." Compostable bags come in sizes including mini, standard, lawn and leaf, and sometimes larger for businesses.
Make sure any plastic bags that claim to be compostable carry the BPI compostable logo on both the box and the bags themselves. If buying bags online, check BPI’s website to verify they are certified compostable.
4. Drop It: Place your bagged organics in the organics cart. Pizza delivery boxes and paper egg cartons may be placed loosely in the cart.
5. Roll it: Set your cart out by 7 a.m. out for weekly collection on the same day as your garbage collection.
Sign up by December 1st, 2021 to receive your organics cart by March 7th. If you sign up between December 1st – April 1st you will receive your cart by mid-April at the latest. Those who sign up after April 1st will receive their cart on an on-going basis. It typically will take up two weeks for carts to be delivered.
By signing up, you will receive a 32-gallon organics cart that will be collected weekly on the same day as garbage. If you live in an apartment, town home or condo that doesn’t receive city service, see the organics drop-off page for more information.
The organics collected in curbside or drop-off programs are taken to a local commercial compost facility and recycled into compost, a nutrient-rich material that is used in landscaping and road construction projects to improve our soil.
Participants in organics recycling programs say it’s a surprisingly easy way to make a difference. It provides a “feel good” benefit, helps the environment, and results in a visible reduction in trash.
- Provides the best opportunity to reduce our trash
Waste sort studies, like the one Hennepin County conducted in 2016, continue to show that organic materials are the largest proportion of our trash – making up about 25 percent of the trash stream. You can save money on your utility bill be switching to a smaller garbage cart. Switch to a smaller cart by contacting the Utility Billing department at 952-563-8726.
- Reduces greenhouse gas emission
Organic materials decomposing in landfills generate methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Diverting organics to composting helps to reduce landfill methane emissions.
- Improves soil and protects water
When compost is added to soil, it reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides. It also increases the water retention of soils, which reduces runoff and erosion that can pollute our water and helps to conserve water.
- Supports a local economy
Minnesota’s composting industry supports about 700 jobs and produces $148 million in gross economic activity per year. The composting industry supports four to eight times more jobs on a per ton basis than landfilling operations.
- Helps achieve Hennepin County goal of zero waste to landfills
Our garbage is disposed of at the Hennepin Energy Recover Center (HERC) that burn waste to generate energy. Getting organic materials out of our trash means that facilities like HERC have more capacity to help reduce the trash we send to landfills. In addition, sending organics materials to a composting facility is preferable to incineration for a number of reasons, including that organics recycling creates nutrient-rich compost and that burning wet organics is not energy efficient at waste-to-energy facilities.
Organics are any item that came from a plant or animal that will turn into compost. This includes:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Meat, fish and bones
- Dairy products
- Eggs and egg shells
- Pasta, beans and rice
- Bread and cereal
- Nuts and shells
- Pizza boxes from delivery
- Napkins and paper towels
- Paper egg cartons
Certified compostable products
- Compostable paper and plastic cups, plates, bowls, utensils and containers
- Look for the BPI logos when purchasing these items
Other compostable items
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Hair and nail clippings
- Cotton balls and swabs with paper stems
- Houseplants and flowers
- Tea bags
- Wooden items such as chopsticks, popsicle sticks and toothpicks
- Animal and pet waste, litter or bedding
- Cleaning or baby wipes, diapers and sanitary products
- Dryer lint and dryer sheets
- Fast food wrappers*, frozen food boxes*, gum, grease or oil
- Household trash
- Products labeled “biodegradable”
- Microwave popcorn bags
- Recyclable items (cartons, glass, metal, paper, plastic)
- To-go coffee cups*
- Yard waste (Leaves, grass clippings, sod, branches, stumps and logs)
Yard waste collection is available through subscription or on call service with the Garbage and Recycling program.
*These products have a thin plastic lining to keep grease and liquids from penetrating the paper. The plastic is not compostable and is difficult to remove from the finished compost. The only food packaging items accepted are those that are certified compostable by BPI.
For a detailed list of what you can and can't put in your organics cart: Detailed Organics Acceptability List.
- Use an ice cream bucket, coffee container or yogurt tub, or purchase a kitchen countertop organics container. Line the container with a certified compostable bag. Paper bags are accepted in the organics program as well, and are great for collecting your dry organics, like paper towels, napkins and egg cartons.
- Vent the lid on the container to reduce odor.
- Line your container with the bag and begin collecting food scraps and non recyclable papers. (Using bags makes it easier to transport the organics from your home to the drop-off location and helps reduce odor and pests. See the list of acceptable items below. Loose food scraps are not accepted.)
- Tie the bag shut and bring to the most convenient drop off location.
Did you know? You can save money on your utility bill be switching to a smaller garbage cart. Switch to a smaller cart by contacting the Utility Billing department at 952-563-8726.
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