Green Notes January 2019: Grants available to improve recycling and reduce waste, plus study finds boat access redesigns are effecting in encouraging aquatic invasive species actions

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green notes

Grants available to improve recycling and reduce waste

School recycling grants

School recycling

Applications are being accepted for the 2019 round of school recycling grants. Applications for grants of up to $50,000 are due by Thursday, February 28.

Eligible recipients include both public and non-public K-12 schools in Hennepin County. Funding can be used to start or improve recycling, organics recycling, and waste reduction programs at schools.

Information meetings will be held:

  • Tuesday, February 5 from 8 to 9 a.m. at the Lunds and Byerlys Community Room in Edina
  • Thursday, February 7 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Rockford Road Library in Crystal

For more information, contact Kira Berglund at or 612-596-1498.

Business and nonprofit recycling grants

Recycling at an office

The commercial sector generates more than half of the total waste in Hennepin County, and nearly two-thirds of the waste created at businesses and nonprofits is recyclable. A strong recycling program conserves natural resources, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, can help your bottom line and demonstrates your organization’s commitment to sustainability and the community.

The county provides funding and assistance for businesses, institutions, and nonprofit organizations to prevent waste and start or improve recycling and organics recycling programs.

The first application due date of the year for larger, competitive grants of up to $50,000 is February 15. Applications for smaller grants primarily for recycling containers are accepted at any time. Learn more and apply.

Multifamily housing recycling grants

Recycling at apartment building

The Hennepin County business recycling program now offers specific funding for multifamily housing properties, including apartment buildings, townhomes and condos. Apply anytime for grants of up to $10,000 primarily for recycling containers. The first application deadline of the year for larger projects over $10,000 are due by February 15. These grants are in addition to the staff assistance and educational resources the county already offers for multifamily recycling.

Public space recycling grants

Park recycling

Grants for recycling containers are available to improve public access to recycling while away from home. Grants are available to public entities, including cities and park districts, to begin or expand recycling and organics recycling at parks, recreation centers, sports venues, events, public buildings, and along business districts. Applications are due by Thursday, February 21. Learn more and apply.

Redesigned public access effective at prompting aquatic invasive species prevention actions

Redesigned public access

The county recently released a report from an observational study that evaluated efforts to redesign public accesses on lakes using research theories about motivating behavior change. The redesign prompts boaters to take proper actions to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

The research shows that redesigning accesses can be an effective tool to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Public accesses redesigned to emphasize aquatic invasive species prevention actions had half the violations rates while self-inspection rates increased by one-third.

The county’s current behavior change strategies at accesses include: 

  • CD3 waterless cleaning system that provides the tools to take actions
  • Pavement markings to influence traffic flow
  • Designated locations to take aquatic invasive species prevention measures
  • Signs to prompt the desired behaviors

These measures can help overcome the issue of boaters operating on auto-pilot as they complete the tasks to launch or remove their watercraft and prompt them to take the necessary actions. At the Spring Park access in 2018, observers found that 87 percent of boaters followed the traffic markings and stop bars and 96 percent followed the proper prevention actions.

The county has shared this information with aquatic invasive species prevention partners. Staff recommend expanding efforts to redesign accesses to promote aquatic invasive species prevention actions in conjunction with optimizing use times and creating uncertainty as to when inspectors will be present.

Read the full report. For more information, contact Tony Brough at or 612-348-4378.

Medicine drop box at Southdale library permanently closing

More than 30 other drop boxes available throughout the county

Southdale drop box

The medicine drop box at Southdale library will be permanently removed on February 1. The box is being removed because the courts are moving out of the county facility, and federal law prohibits collection boxes like this one at locations where there is not a law enforcement presence.

There are more than 30 other medicine drop boxes available throughout the county. The four closest drop boxes to the Southdale location are:

  • HealthPartners Bloomington Clinic, 8600 Nicollet Ave South in Bloomington
  • Bloomington Walgreens store, 9800 Lyndale Avenue South in Bloomington
  • Edina Walgreens store, 6975 York Avenue South in Edina
  • Hennepin Healthcare Richfield Clinic and Pharmacy, located in Market Plaza, 790 West 66th Street in Richfield

For more information, contact Ryan Gastecki at or 612-348-8994.

Organics recycling expands to Robbinsdale and St. Anthony

Scraping food waste into organics bin

More than one-third of our trash is organic materials like food, napkins, and paper towels that can be composted. This makes organics recycling an easy way to reduce your trash, protect the environment, and make a difference!

Robbinsdale residents with city recycling and garbage service can now sign up for organics recycling pick up. Organics recycling is an additional cost of $6 per month. The organics recycling program will begin in 2019 once enough people have signed up, so residents should spread the word and encourage friends and neighbors to sign up as well.

A new organics recycling drop-off site recently opened at St. Anthony City Hall. The drop off site is open 24/7. Learn more.

Learn about organics recycling options available throughout Hennepin County.

Grants awarded for cleanup of contaminated sites

The Hennepin County board recently awarded $1.6 million to nine projects for the assessment and cleanup of contaminated sites. The Environmental Response Fund supports projects where added environmental costs hinder site improvements or redevelopment. Grants in this round are supporting projects that will create affordable and market-rate rental units, develop retail space, establish a fire station, and improve a park. Learn more about the grant projects.

For more information, contact Mary Finch at or 612-543-1595.

County completes clean up and removal of hazardous buildings at former Universal Plating site

In November, Hennepin County Environment and Energy and Resident and Real Estate Services removed the buildings from the former Universal Plating sited located on the lots surrounding 1900 Monroe Street NE in Minneapolis. A chemical and mechanical plating and finishing facility operated on the property from 1944 to 2009. The site is currently listed as a Minnesota Superfund Site and is a State of Minnesota tax-forfeit site administered by Hennepin County’s Resident and Real Estate Services.

Inside building at Universal Plating site

The buildings were extremely dilapidated and were starting to become unsound, which created a physical safety hazard to people potentially entering the structures. Environment and Energy worked to clean up the buildings prior to demolition. Removal of the buildings went smoothly, and the process included notifying and accommodating neighboring Edison High School and the community. The buildings' concrete floors were left in place to contain the contaminated soils. The site will continue to be managed by the Resident and Real Estate Services’ Forfeited Lands Unit until additional funding or a developer is found to conduct soil cleanup for site redevelopment.


Fix-It Clinics

Fix-It Clinic successful vacuum repair

Get household items fixed for free, learn valuable repair skills, and keep usable stuff out of the trash at an upcoming Fix-It Clinic.

At Fix-It Clinics, residents bring in small household appliances, clothing, electronics, mobile devices and more and receive free guided assistance from volunteers with repair skills to disassemble, troubleshoot and fix their items.

Upcoming Fix-It Clinics are scheduled for:

  • Saturday, February 9 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Hopkins Activity Center, 33 14th Avenue N in Hopkins
  • Saturday, March 9 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Armatage Recreation Center, 2500 W 57th Street in Minneapolis
  • Sunday, April 14 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Eden Prairie Senior Center, 8950 Eden Prairie Road in Eden Prairie

Green Tip: Use salt sparingly (or not at all) to protect our lakes and rivers

Scattering salt

Salty water is a growing problem in Minnesota that affects aquatic life and our drinking water, according to the latest blog post from Clean Water MN. Using salt on sidewalks, driveways, parking lots and roads can help improve safety, but too much salt can pollute our water and harm pets and wildlife.

“There’s no salt on the market that isn’t harmful to the environment,” says Kate Johnson, a Minnesota GreenCorps member with the City of Rogers. Melting snow and ice carries salt into our lakes, rivers and streams, permanently polluting our water.

Hennepin County and many other entities in the state have taken significant steps to reduce their salt use. You can do your part to minimize your impact this winter by following Clean Water MN’s 4 steps to using sidewalk salt responsibly

  1. Shovel. The best way to keep your sidewalks and driveway clear of ice is to shovel early and often. 
  2. Select the right product for the right temperature. Sodium chloride doesn’t melt snow below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, so use sand, kitty litter, or chicken grit (a crushed granite sold at most feed stores) for traction in colder weather. Check out the salt and deicer comparison on this web page to learn more.
  3. Scatter. Use salt sparingly and only where it’s necessary. A 12-ounce coffee cup of salt is enough to cover 10 sidewalk squares or a 20-foot driveway.
  4. Sweep up leftover salt and sand to prevent runoff and to reuse it later.

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