Give back to nature with organics recycling

Organics recycling at East African Deli
Organics recycling at East African Deli (Courtesy of Hennepin County)

About 30 percent of what we throw away is organic waste, which includes food scraps and food-soiled paper products. Organics recycling is an easy way to reduce waste and create a valuable resource that improves soil, reduces soil erosion and decreases the need for chemical fertilizers. Organics recycling programs involve collecting fruits, vegetables, meat, bread, eggshells, paper towels, tissues and more for recycling into compost. Compost is a nutrient-rich soil additive used in landscaping and road construction projects.

How can I recycle organics?

Several cities throughout the Hennepin County offer curbside pickup or drop-off options for organics recycling, including the new Minneapolis organics recycling program. If you live in a house with Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling services, you can sign up to participate in the organics recycling program. Renters in a house that has Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling services can also sign up without having the utility bill payer (landlord or owner) sign up for them. There is no extra cost to participate.

How can I sign up?

Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycle customers can sign up by filling out the organics recycling signup form or by contacting 612-673-2917 or SWRcustomer@minneapolismn.gov. An organics recycling cart will be delivered to your address within a couple weeks of signing up.

How do I collect organics at home?

  1. Collect organics in compostable bags through your home, including the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and bedrooms.
  2. Place your bags of organics in your organics recycling cart.
  3. Place your organics cart at your alley or curb next to your garbage and recycling carts by 6 am on your regularly scheduled garbage day.

Will it smell?

Organics will smell the same as your household trash. Remember, it is the same waste you have now, just separated into containers. To minimize odors, collect food scraps in a small countertop container, line your container with a compostable plastic bag to contain liquids, include food-soiled paper products or line your container with a paper bag to absorb liquid from food waste, empty your container frequently, and rinse it out occasionally.

What happens to organics after they’re picked up?

Organics collected through the Minneapolis organics recycling program are brought to a commercial composting facility where materials are mixed with yard waste and composted. Microbes break down organic material, causing the compost to heat up. After about nine months, the compost is screened to remove any items that didn’t get composted (such as larger sticks or contaminants) and is ready for use in gardens or in landscaping, construction or erosion-control projects.

 

What if I can’t participate in organics recycling collection?

Minneapolis residents can also use the city’s residential organics drop-off locations. Another option is to encourage the owner or manager of the apartment building or commercial property to add organics collection service.

 

Learn more about organics recycling at www.hennepin.us/organics or www.minneapolismn.gov/organics.

This information was provided by Hennepin County Environment and Energy, Environmental Education & Outreach.