MRC update: 2019 volunteer appreciation event, plus PFAS in compostable packaging raises concerns

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master recycler composter newsletter

You’re invited! 2019 volunteer appreciation event

Thursday, September 19
Theodore Wirth Park Pavilion 3275 Glenwood Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55405 (map)

5:30 p.m. optional wetland walk
6:15 p.m. dinner

Please join us in celebrating YOU. The Hennepin County Environment and Energy Volunteer Appreciation Event will be an evening to show off your hard work and commitment and to celebrate the success of our different volunteer programs.

Wirth pavilion
Wirth wetland

The optional wetland walk will involve traveling a short distance to several wetlands to talk about water quality and what we are doing to monitor, protect, and enhance our water resources. Dinner will follow.

Learn more and RSVP.

PFAS: What is it and how can you help educate on the topic?

chipotle bowl

Perfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFAS, have become a popular topic of discussion with the discovery that some molded-fiber containers, such as the bowls at Chipotle, have been treated with these chemicals. We are now learning that these containers, though incredibly popular and certified compostable by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), have deeper environmental implications than previously known.

What are PFAS?

PFAS, also referred to as PFCs, are a family of synthetic chemicals. These chemicals have been used since the 1940s to make products resistant to heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. Common uses include nonstick cookware, stain resistant carpets and fabrics, coatings on some food packaging, components of fire-fighting foam, and other industrial applications.

The State of Minnesota describes PFAS as “emerging contaminants,” meaning that we have new awareness or understanding of how they impact the environment and public health. PFAS move easily in groundwater, and have been detected in public water systems all over the United States. According to the U.S. EPA, the chemicals are linked to liver damage, harm to the immune system, and developmental toxicity and cancer, and they can accumulate in humans and the environment.

What can you do?

As a Master Recycler, you may receive questions about PFAS when you are completing your payback hours. You can be a source of valuable information to concerned residents.

Although PFAS are considered an “emerging contaminant,” many people and entities have already started to take action.

Whole Foods stopped using packaging containing PFAS in late 2018, and Trader Joe’s has pledged to do the same. You can encourage residents to advocate for eliminating PFAS-treated packaging at other retailers that still use it.

fiber container

Beginning January 1, 2020, BPI will no longer certify any product that contains more than 100 parts per million of total fluorine (an indicator of PFAS treatment). This means that most currently certified compostable molded-fiber containers will lose their certification, which is an important step toward reducing the prevalence of these chemicals in the compostable packaging industry.

And finally, continue to encourage waste reduction and reuse. Recycling and composting are valuable actions, but reducing the amount of waste we create in the first place is the strongest action we can take toward combating waste. Molded-fiber containers were previously seen as a great compostable solution, but, in addition to newfound health implications, these items are still single-use, disposable, and contribute to the waste stream. Encourage residents to prepare their own meals, to pay attention to packaging that is used for their food, to bring reusable containers from home for takeout food, and to create a zero waste food takeout kit to help make it a habit.

Learn more

Reporting your payback hours

Working on your payback? Many of you are doing great things in your communities to further waste reduction in Hennepin County but have not yet reported any hours. Please use our online form to report your hours, or feel free to email an update of what you are up to, and we’ll take care of the rest.

MRCs that have completed payback hours

The following Master Recyclers have completed their required payback hours. Great job! 

Alex Kim Esther Seha Lois Schadewald
Amanda Kueper Jill Englund Louise Hotka
Andrea Siegel John Lehnen LuAnn Johnson
Angela Rogers Jolene Sullivan Warnke Lucinda Anderson
Audrey Boyle Joshua Suckow Marie Monson
Barb Swanson Joy Gottschalk Marita Streit
Ben Weidmann Julie Dahlberg Molly Olson
Bobbie Erichsen Kate Powers Nancy Bergen
Catherine Pearson Kathryn Nelson Nicole Smiley
Cathy Schlegel Kathryn Steinberger Nina M Ritchie
Chris Swearingen Hoffman Kelly Bloedom Rachel Lindholm
Claire Sorvari Graupmann Kim Erickson Stephanie Schuebel
Courtney Antone Kim Richards Stephen Peterson
Deanna Kelley Kristin Drews Todd Tanner
Denise Jamison Laurie Cant Kuduk Toni D'Eramo
Erin Mourning Leah Sweet Slicker Wendy Carlson


Upcoming payback opportunities

Info table at Minneapolis Public Schools Farm-to-School Community BBQ: Tuesday, September 17

An MRC is needed to co-staff an information table on waste at the 8th annual Minneapolis Public Schools Farm-to-School Community BBQ on Tuesday, September 17 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the MPS Culinary Center, 812 Plymouth Ave N in Minneapolis. The rain date is Thursday, September 19. 

The annual Farm to School Community BBQ is a free event hosted by MPS to celebrate our local food system, gear up for Farm-to-School month in October, and provide an opportunity for the community to meet our farmers and chefs. The BBQ will feature locally sourced food, live music, family-friendly activities, a corn-shucking contest, and more! If interested contact Kira Berglund at

Waste station monitoring at Nicollet Open Streets in Minneapolis: Sunday, September 22

MRCs are needed to help Nicollet Open Streets attendees sort waste, answer questions about organics recycling, and sign up for organics recycling. Just go to the Green Crew section of the form to sign up.

Info table at community night out in Brooklyn Center: Thursday, September 26

1 or 2 MRCs are needed to table about waste and recycling at a National Night Out type of event on September 26 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Lake Pointe Apartments in Brooklyn Center. If interested, please email

Waste station monitoring at NatureFest in Brooklyn Park: October 1 - 3

Hennepin County is looking for help at the 2019 NatureFest – happening October 1, 2, and 3 at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park in Brooklyn Park. We are hosting six schools at NatureFest, bringing students who don’t normally get outdoor field trip opportunities. We are in need of lunch recycling helpers to stand by the waste sorting station during lunch and help students sort their items into recycling, organics, and trash. We need 1 or 2 helpers each day from about 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. If you’re interested in taking a shift, sign up here and select lunch helper.

Litter Be Gone cleanups in Minneapolis: October 3 - 12

MRCs are invited to participate in Litter Be Gone, a series of fall events hosted by residents, neighborhoods, and organizations to clean up litter from Minneapolis streets and boulevards before they become covered by leaves and snow. This annual campaign starts the first Thursday in October and runs through the second Saturday in October. Participate as an individual, or put together a team. Learn more.

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Master Recycler/Composter Coordinator


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