Hennepin County study reveals insights on waste sorting habits

The results of a county-wide waste study have revealed what exactly Hennepin residents are putting in their trash on a regular basis.

Hennepin County released the findings of a week-long study that took place in May, where workers at the Hennepin County Energy Recovery Center examined trash collected from a cross-section of Minneapolis, with the aim of characterizing what materials go in the trash, with the hopes of discovering if the county’s goal of recycling 75 percent of all waste by the year 2030 is tenable.

A summary of the findings, released by the county on Nov. 21, revealed that organic waste such as food and compostable paper made up a quarter of the trash examined in the study. Recyclable materials such as paper and cardboard only accounted for 14 percent of the refuse, while materials with the potential to be recycled – such as clothing, plastic bags, mattresses and electronics – only accounted for 7 percent.

The study also discovered that the waste examined yielded a large amount of actual trash, with the county noting that a number of materials in the top 10 list of items found lack adequate reuse or recycling markets, such as diapers, pet waste, and home improvement waste.

According to the county’s findings, in 2015, 46 percent of Hennepin County’s waste was diverted to recycling; the county announced that in 2017, a solid waste master plan will be developed to respond to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Metropolitan Solid Waste Management Master Policy Plan. The county hopes that these initiatives will provide strategies to build upon a long-term waste management plan.

The county also offered a number of suggestions to county residents on how to reduce waste:
• Residents can reduce food waste by eating all the food that they buy, practicing meal planning, understanding expiration labels and properly storing their food.
• Residents should divert all organic waste, paper and cardboard to appropriate recycling receptacles.
• Residents can learn about where to drop-off items such as electronics, scrap metal and clothes at hennepin.us/greendisposalguide

For more information on Hennepin County’s waste study, visit hennepin.us/solidwasteplanning.

Contact Christiaan Tarbox at [email protected] or follow the Sun Post on Twitter @ecmsunpost.