News: Hennepin County requires organics recycling for cities and certain businesses

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Hennepin County Minnesota



Carolyn Marinan, Communications, 612-348-5969

Angie Timmons, Environment and Energy, 612-348-2477

Hennepin County requires organics recycling for cities and certain businesses

New requirements usher in the next big advancement in recycling for our region 

On Tuesday, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved revisions to the county’s recycling ordinance.

The changes require businesses that generate large quantities of food waste to implement food waste recycling by 2020 and cities to offer organics recycling service to residents by 2022. Revisions will provide residents with the opportunity to participate in organics recycling. The business food waste requirement applies to businesses that generate large amounts of food waste and can implement organics recycling requirement in a cost-effective way.

Since organic materials make up 30 percent of trash, recycling food and other organic materials is the biggest opportunity to achieve the county’s goals of recycling 75 percent of our waste and sending zero waste to landfills by 2030.

“Hennepin County residents are strongly interested in environmental protection and organics recycling helps them achieve that goal,” said County Board Chair Jan Callison. “We were able to actively engage with the local communities, cities, and businesses to create a common-sense approach to organics requirements that makes implementing organics recycling manageable for city partners and businesses.”

Putting organic waste to a better use can help feed people in need, create compost for healthier soils and create energy through anaerobic digestion. Diverting organics from the trash reduces emissions of greenhouse gases, especially methane that is generated from the decomposition of organic materials in landfills.

Organic materials are a resource, not waste,” Public Works Committee Chair Mike Opat said. “This is the next step in the evolution of how we deal with our garbage.”

In addition to requiring organics recycling, the ordinance was revised to improve conventional recycling at businesses, apartments and other multifamily dwellings.

The county’s recycling ordinance was adopted in 1986 to create residential curbside recycling programs. Since then, recycling has expanded to serve residents everywhere — at work, school and in public spaces. The county completed an extensive public engagement process to revise the ordinance. Input on the ordinance language was solicited from more than 16,000 stakeholders, including city representatives, trade associations, waste haulers, property managers, businesses and the broader community.

Details of the new recycling requirements

  • Businesses that generate large quantities of food waste, such as restaurants, hotels, grocers, residential care facilities and office buildings with dining services, must implement food waste recycling by January 1, 2020. This requirement applies to businesses in the covered sectors that generate one ton of trash or more per week or contract for weekly collection of eight or more cubic yards of trash. This threshold was selected because large generators of organics are likely to break even or even save money when implementing food waste recycling.
  • Cities must make organics recycling service available to all households with curbside recycling service (single-family and dwellings up to four units) by January 1, 2022. Cities of the fourth class (those with a population of 10,000 or less) can choose not to make curbside organics recycling service available to residents but must provide at least one organics recycling drop-off site by January 1, 2022.
  • Multifamily properties must provide recycling education to residents, offer adequate service for the collection of recyclables (and organics if offered), increase service levels if insufficient, provide recycling containers in common areas where trash is being collected, and label waste containers.
  • In addition to meeting state recycling requirements, businesses must offer adequate service for the collection of recyclables, increase service levels if insufficient and label containers.
  • The county will have the authority to enforce these requirements, including the ability to issue warnings or citations for noncompliance. Businesses and multifamily properties would be given the opportunity to comply before the county would take enforcement action.

Learn more

Read the board action.

Read the final ordinance language with the adopted revisions.

See a summary of revision process and findings of public engagement efforts.

Look for more news on the Hennepin County website at

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