Green Notes: Business waste prevention grants available, Plastic-Free Challenge starts tomorrow, Zero Waste Plan update

green notes

Waste prevention grants are available to businesses and nonprofit organizations

Refrigerator for business recycling grants


Hennepin County has a grant program to fund projects that prevent waste in the business sector. Areas of focus include replacing disposables with reusables, food waste prevention and innovative projects around research and development (to prevent waste). This year $300,000 is available for business waste prevention grants.

Applicants may apply for up to $50,000 toward a project, with a minimum of $5,000. Grants over $10,000 require a 25% match. Review the 2022 waste prevention grant guidelines (PDF) and the grant flyer (PDF) for details on this grant program.

Application timeline

Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis until Monday, November 14, 2022, or until the annual program budget is exhausted, whichever occurs first.

Learn more

Visit the business recycling web page to learn more and apply.

Bin and compostable bag grants for small businesses and nonprofit organizations

Business recycling waste bins

The county is providing free resources and assistance for small businesses and nonprofit organizations to start or improve recycling and organics recycling. Applicants may select up to $3,000 worth of containers and compostable bags from the county's product list. Review the 2022 Business recycling bin and compostable bag grant guidelines (PDF) and grant flyer (PDF) for details on container and bag options.

Application timeline

Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis until Monday, November 14, 2022, or until the annual program budget is exhausted, whichever occurs first.

Learn more

Visit the business recycling web page to learn more and apply.

Consultants hired to lead the development of the county’s Zero Waste Plan

Hennepin County recently hired two consultants that will work collaboratively with county staff to develop a plan to reach a zero-waste future.

Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) was hired as the solid waste consultant to identify gaps in the county’s existing solid waste system, review the solid waste systems of leading zero-waste communities, conduct stakeholder engagement, and coordinate work groups to develop strategies.

Dr. Apolinario-Wilcoxon

Antonia Apolinário-Wilcoxon, Ed.D. of Equity Strategies was hired as a facilitator to support the plan’s broad community engagement process with a strong focus on equity and disparity reduction. One key responsibility of the facilitator is to coordinate a cohort of 15 community groups that will be focused on engaging residents who have traditionally been left out of solid waste planning processes and are potentially more burdened by the current solid waste system.

As a skilled local facilitator, Dr. Apolinário-Wilcoxon will provide transparency and neutrality in discussions and analysis of feedback regarding concerns and opportunities related to the county’s solid waste system.

About the Zero Waste Plan

Hennepin County’s zero-waste vision is a system where all materials are designed to become resources for others to use. The Zero Waste Plan will complement the county’s newly adopted Climate Action Plan and provide the foundation for the county’s 2024 Solid Waste Management Master Plan. A draft of the Zero Waste Plan will be presented to the county board in November 2022.  

For more information, contact Carolyn Collopy at

Five reasons to join the Plastic-Free Challenge

Loons swimming


The Plastic-Free Challenge will help you reduce your reliance on plastics, especially packaging and single-use plastics, by committing to actions that work best for your lifestyle and providing you support, motivation, and resources to form new habits.

Because plastics are so prevalent, using less plastic is hard! But there are so many benefits that make the ongoing commitment to a plastic-free lifestyle worth it. With the challenge starting tomorrow, here are five reasons to join:

  1. Keep our lakes and rivers clean: Clean water is essential to the health of our environment, our iconic wildlife, and ourselves. Packaging and single-use plastics contribute significantly to the increasing amounts of plastic waste and litter.
  2. Protect the health of your family and future generations: Plastics in our environment don’t go away. Instead, they break down into microplastics that are found almost everywhere, including in our air, water, soil, and bodies. The health impacts of these tiny bits of plastic are largely unknown. Reducing your family’s reliance on plastics protects the health of your children and the environment for future generations.
  3. Address climate change: Most plastics are made from oil and gas – fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. So reducing your plastic use also reduces your carbon footprint.
  4. Get answers to your plastics recycling questions: Knowing what types of plastics can be recycled and which ones should be avoided entirely can be confusing! Get answers to your plastics recycling questions and learn about alternative products or how to make your own to avoid plastics altogether.
  5. Be a changemaker: Our actions have a greater impact when we share them with others. The challenge provides opportunities to be a zero-waste leader by influencing your family, friends, and community to reduce their plastic use and clean up plastic litter.

The Plastic-Free Challenge runs February 1 through 28. Learn more, sign up, and get ready to go plastic-free at

Lawns to Legumes offers funding to create pollinator habitat

Applications due February 15

Bee the change logo for Lawns to Legumes

Minnesota residents are eligible to apply for Lawns to Legumes cost-share funding of up to $300 to create pollinator habitat in their yards.

The application deadline is Feb. 15 and applicants will be chosen in March.

Minnesota is home to more than 450 native bee species and other species — including butterflies, moths, beetles, hummingbirds, and flies — that play a key role in pollinating many food crops and native plants. Many populations have declined worldwide in recent years due to habitat loss and related lack of nutrition, as well as pesticide use and pathogens. The planting projects in this program provide opportunities for almost anyone who wants to do a project.

Learn more and apply: Applying for Lawns to Legumes Assistance – Blue Thumb

In the news

Green tip: Keeping your home comfortable in the winter while saving energy

Dad and daughter keeping warm on couch under blanket

Cold weather is here in Minnesota! Staying comfortable in your home this winter isn’t as hard as you may think. In fact, by taking a few simple steps to make your home more energy efficient, you can stay cozy and save money, even in the coldest months.

Whether you own your home or rent, anyone can take these simple steps to stay comfortable in the colder months. They will also help you reduce your energy use and save money! With these small changes, you can keep your home comfortable all winter long:

  1. Set your thermostat: Manually set your thermostat at 68°F during the day and lower it when you go to sleep or when you are away from your home. You could also invest in a smart thermostat to adjust the temperature automatically.
  2. Weatherize your windows and doors: Seal any leaks in your doors and windows using weatherization techniques such as draft snakes. Don’t try to heat the outdoors!
  3. Avoid using space heaters: Space heaters are inefficient and don’t distribute warmth around your home as well as your heating system does.
  4. Use the power of the sun: Open your blinds during the day to harness the power of the sun to warm your home.
  5. Tune up your heating system annually: Heating systems should be tuned up every year and replaced with newer, more efficient models at the end of their lifespan.

Improving energy efficiency is an easy way to reduce our energy consumption and use our resources more responsibly. Read the full article on Hennepin County’s Climate Action website to learn how to make your home more energy efficient year-round.

About Green Notes

GreenNotes covers environmental news, programs and events from Hennepin County.

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