Minneapolis residents are embracing single-sort recycling

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 21, 2013 - 7:27 AM

New collection method has boosted recycling 63% in Minneapolis.

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Minneapolis residents on four collection routes can now toss all of their recyclables in one bin. The rest of the city will switch to single-sort by summer.

Photo: File photo by Richard Sennott. • rsennott@startribune.com ,

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Minneapolis is reporting that its newly instituted single-sort recycling process has prompted a surge in what residents are keeping out of the trash.

In the first six weeks after the state’s largest city began phasing in the more convenient process last fall, Minneapolis saw a 63 percent increase in recycling compared to the same period in the previous year.

That’s an additional 396 tons. That’s also the combined weight of 1,863 Jareds — before the Subway pitchman lost all that weight.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is pushing communities to increase recycling. St. Paul has launched “Recycle It Forward,” a communitywide assessment of how to increase recycling. Recycling in St. Paul has remained flat in recent years. Single-source recycling is one of the ideas that will be considered.

The MPCA wants the amount of trash headed to landfills to decrease by 75 percent by 2030. In Minneapolis, four routes in the city switched to single-sort last fall, allowing about 30,000 households to toss all of their recyclables — glass, plastic, paper, aluminum and cardboard — into one container. The remaining 80,000 residences will be added come spring and summer as crews drop off new blue carts.

Minneapolis’ goal is by 2015 to double the amount that was recycled in 2012. Before single-sort recycling kicked in, residents were recycling 18 to 20 percent of their solid waste, but it had been stuck at that number for many years.

In tandem with initiating single-sort recycling, the city also expanded what types of plastics and paper it collects. Minneapolitans can now include plastics marked with numbers 1 through 7. New paper items accepted include juice boxes, and milk, soup, broth and wine cartons. The downside of single-sort recycling is that the different materials “contaminate” each other when combined. This means not only is there more “residual” waste, but processing costs also are higher. City officials have said they believe technology has greatly reduced the amount of residual waste.

Businesses and larger residential properties are not part of the new city effort. They contract for their own trash and recycling removal, “so they’d have individual rules depending on their hauler,” said city spokesman Matt Laible.

For more information about one-sort recycling in Minneapolis, visit www.minneapolismn.gov/onesort.

 

Staff writer Rochelle Olson contributed to this report.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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