Contact Information

Contact Information

Utility Billing

Title

Curbside organics recycling FAQs

Sections

What is organics recycling?

It is the collection of organic material in a separate cart for composting. Organics are any item that came from a plant or animal that will turn into compost. This includes:

  • All food scraps, including meat and dairy products
  • Pizza boxes
  • Napkins and paper towels
  • Certified compostable food service items like plants, cups and takeout containers
  • Other compostable household items like coffee grounds, paper tea bags and paper egg cartons

After organics are collected from the curb, they are taken to a commercial composting facility where they are recycled and turned into compost, a nutrient rich soil amendment.  See our organics acceptability list for more information about what’s accepted in organics recycling.

Do I need to put organics in a bag before placing in organics cart?

Yes.  Organics must be bagged for collection.  This helps organics come out of your cart easily and reduces pests and odors.  You can use:

  • Brown paper bags
  • Certified compostable plastic bags.  They are often carried in grocery stores, hardware stores, large retail stores and sometimes garden stores.  You can also search online for “BPI compostable plastic bags”.  Compostable bags come in sizes included mini (3 gallon), standard (13 gallon), lawn and leaf (30 gallon) and sometimes larger 60 gallon 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. 

Why are we doing this?

Hennepin County Ordinance 13 requires cities with more than 10,000 residents make organics recycling available to residents by 2022.  Waste sort studies, like the one Hennepin County conducted in 2016, continue to show that organics materials are the largest proportion of our trash, making up one-third of our trash.  The collection of organic material at the curb is important to the City’s sustainability and overall solid waste reduction goals.

Who can sign up for curbside organics recycling?

Curbside organics recycling service will be available to all households in the City’s garbage and recycling program. 

How can I recycle my organics if I live in an apartment, townhome or condo?

If you live in an apartment, townhome or condo and are interested in participating in organics collection, here is how you can get started:

  • Bring organics to a drop-off site
  • Bloomington residents can bring organics to three different drop-off sites.  The City will continue to operate drop-off sites for residents after curbside organics is rolled out.  There is no charge to use these sites, but you do need to sign up to use them. Learn more and sign up to use the drop-offs.

 

  • Talk with your property manager about signing up for organics recycling service
  • Properties can request organics hauling service from some garbage haulers for a fee. Check if your current trash and recycling hauler provides organics for composting hauling service. There is assistance available to cover some of the startup costs through Hennepin County business recycling grants.

Will organics drop-off sites remain open?

Yes.  The City will continue to operate drop-off sites for residents after curbside organics is rolled out.  There is no charge to use these sites, but you do need to sign up to use them.  Learn more and sign up to use the drop-offs on the City’s website.

Site locations

  • Valley View Park - 201 E 90th St (in parking lot in-between pool and ballfields)
  • West Bush Lake Park - 95th St and W Bush Lake Rd (Near "Shelter 1" in parking lot next to maintenance storage building)
  • Hennepin County also hosts an organics drop-off site at the South Hennepin Recycling and Problem Waste Drop-off Center at 1400 W 96th St. Hours are posted on the Hennepin County website.

What is accepted?

Organics are any item that came from a plant or animal that will turn into compost. This includes:

Food scraps

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Meat, fish and bones
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs and egg shells
  • Pasta, beans and rice
  • Bread and cereal
  • Nuts and shells

Non-recyclable paper

  • 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

Items NOT accepted

  • 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)
  • Styrofoam
  • 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

What are the benefits?

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.

Organics recycling:

  • 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.
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  • 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.Watch the what happens to my organics video for more information about the organics composting process.
  • 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.

How is it different than backyard composting?  

You can compost more materials with the city's organics program than in your backyard compost bin. Because the organics are taken to a commercial composting facility, there are items that can be collected that people should not compost in a backyard pile, including meat and dairy products, other greasy foods, paper towels, napkins and certified compostable products like disposable cups, bowls and plates.  The heat from the commercial composting process is able to break down these items more quickly.  Backyard composting is still a great option for turning fruit and vegetable scraps and yard waste into a soil amendment that can be used at home.

Will I still need to have separate yard waste service?

Yard waste will not be accepted in curbside organics recycling carts.  In order to have yard waste collected, residents will still need to subscribe for separate yard waste service or order stickers for individual yard waste bags.

How much does it cost?

Households will be charged $5.50 a month on their Utility Bill for organics recycling service.  All households will be charged for access to the service, like our regular recycling service.  Residents must sign up to participate and receive an organics cart.

Why do I need to pay for this if I don’t plan on participating?  

As we have looked at different models for how to make organics recycling service available to residents, we have considered different ways to fund the program.  We have found that looking at this service as a system, where it is accessible to all garbage and recycling customers, makes organics recycling service available for everyone and more affordable for residents overall.  Having a system-wide approach means we can negotiate for volume pricing with the haulers.  The city uses this system-wide approach with regular recycling, which is paid for by all residents, as well.

Keeping the prices affordable and having the service accessible also helps to ensure that residents will use the organics program.  This helps to achieve the City’s strategic goals to reduce volume of material sent to landfills and incinerators, reduce carbon emissions, and improve water quality.  If the cost to participate in the program is a subscription service, like yard waste, residents are not as likely to participate.  This is born out in other cities that have decided to make the program a subscription service. 

Can I opt-out?

Households are not required to sign up and receive an organics cart, but will not be able to opt out of paying for the program.

Are frozen food boxes, fast food wrappers or to-go coffee cups accepted?

No. 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.

Are pizza delivery boxes and egg cartons compostable?

Yes. These items are accepted as part of the city’s organics program. All organics must be bagged in certified compostable bags. The only exception is pizza delivery boxes, which can be put loose in your organics cart. Make sure to remove any delivery stickers usually found on the sides of delivery boxes.

Can I change the size of my organics cart?

The standard organics recycling cart size is a 30 gallon cart.  Residents may receive a 60 gallon cart upon request, if approved by the City.  Residents can change a solid waste cart size one time in a 12-month period for no cost by calling utility billing at 952.924.2111.  Additional cart size changes in the same 12-month period will incur a cart change fee.

Can I use regular plastic bags to collect organics?

No. Plastic bags are not compostable and are a contaminant.  You can use:

  • Brown paper bags
  • Certified compostable plastic bags.  They are often carried in grocery stores, hardware stores, large retail stores and sometimes garden stores.  You can also search online for “BPI compostable plastic bags”.  Compostable bags come in sizes included mini (3 gallon), standard (13 gallon), lawn and leaf (30 gallon) and sometimes larger 60 gallon 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   

How do I tie my compostable bags shut?

First, make sure not to overfill your bag.  Tie up your bag when it is just over two-thirds full. Start by grabbing the opposite sides of the top of the bag, twist them a couple times and then tie a knot using the two twisted areas you just created. Tie a knot one more time and place the bag in your organics cart. Please do not use twist ties because they are not compostable.

How often is my organics cart picked up?

Your hauler picks up organics every week on your regular collection day. If your cart collection is missed, contact Utility Billing at 952-563-8726 or UtilityBilling@bloomingtonmn.gov.

What about using my garbage disposal for food scraps?

Putting food scraps down the garbage disposal places extra processing burdens on wastewater treatment facilities. It takes energy and resources to process solids, including food waste, at wastewater treatment plants. Composting food scraps through the organics program or backyard composting is a better option as finished compost puts valuable nutrients back into the soil.

What happens to the organic material once it has been collected?

Organics material is composted at a commercial composting facility. Compost can be made using items that can’t be easily composted in a backyard, such as bones, fish skins and dairy products. Organics become compost in just 180 days after you put them out for weekly collection.

What does the city provide to organics recycling customers?

When you sign up, your household will receive the following:

  • A 30-gallon lidded organics recycling cart
  • An informational packet attached to your cart when it is delivered. 

Where can I purchase compostable bags?

They are often carried in grocery stores, hardware stores, large retail stores and sometimes garden stores.  You can also search online for “BPI compostable plastic bags”.  Compostable bags come in sizes included mini (3 gallon), standard (13 gallon), lawn and leaf (30 gallon) and sometimes larger 60 gallon 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.  Remember only bags labeled BPI-certified compostable and brown paper grocer bags may be used. 

Will my organics container smell?

Organics won't smell any more than your regular garbage smells. Remember that with organics, you're simply moving the organic materials from your garbage cart into your organics cart.

Help prevent odors in your home by using a collection container that has a vented lid. Food waste starts to decompose and creates odors more quickly when access to oxygen is cut off. You can purchase a pre-made kitchen pail with a vended lid (with or without a carbon filter), or you can make one using an ice cream pail or other container.

Consider collecting your "wet" organics (food scraps, meat trimmings, etc.) in a large yogurt or cottage cheese container or ice cream pail and keep that container in your refrigerator or freezer. Dump the wet organics into a compostable bag and place the bag in your organics cart the night before your collection day. For more ideas, visit the organics setup and tips page.