70 ideas to reduce waste as Minnesota increases output

The Twin Cities metro produces 3.3 million tons of waste every year and most of it goes to landfills.

Two-thirds of what ends up in Minnesota landfills shouldn’t be there, partly because it’s not easy to figure out whether stuff should be recycled or tossed.

It’s confusing.

The state pollution control agency has 70 ideas for simplifying the choices and cutting the waste.

Minnesota landfills are overflowing as one ton of waste per person in the Twin Cities Metro gets dumped every year. Recycling jumped early this century, but it’s been stagnant or even declining lately and the state pollution control agency acknowledges confusion is part of the reason.

"How many people have picked up that container and said ‘What does these chasing arrows mean? Can I recycle it or not?’" said Kirk Koudelka of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

"We need to also make larger systematic changes in determining what is truly recyclable. so that you and I, when we actually are trying to recycle, it’s easy and we can do it really quickly."

The state is aiming for 90% of trash going to recycling or compost by 2045. That’s double the latest numbers, but pollution control came up with 70 ideas to meet the goal. 

They recommend weekly recycling in all seven Twin Cities Metro counties by 2025 and curbside composting available in any city with at least 5,000 people. They’d also like to see cities develop ordinances charging consumers a fee every time they get single-use cups, containers, and utensils.

The Chamber of Commerce affiliate Minnesota Waste Wise has already worked with 43 businesses to get rid of those items.

"These actions aren’t just caring for our environment but reducing waste also helps business bottom line," said Minnesota Waste Wise executive director Rob Friend.

The state also wants to encourage the reuse of items like clothing and furniture, putting a spotlight on nonprofits like Bridging in Roseville.

"There’s new and there’s landfill, but there’s a lot in between there that we all need to understand what our part is in that conversation," said Diana Dalsin, director of strategic partnerships at Bridging.

The state will be taking input on its ideas for the next three months before fully implementing a savings plan, so you can go to their website to read it and weigh in.