Minnesota Pollution Control Agency releases Twin Cities 20-year waste reduction plan

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) released a draft of its 20-year plan to reduce waste in the Twin Cities Metro on Wednesday. The plan includes 70 ideas, such as charging fees for single-use plastic and collecting trash and recycling on the same day.

MPCA released the Metropolitan Solid Waste Police Plan which will guide the Twin Cities with short and long-term solutions on managing waste until 2042. The Twin Cities generated 3.3 million tons of trash in 2021, which is expected to grow 19% by 2042. 

In comparison, the United States generated 292.4 million tons of trash in 2018, with 146.1 million tons of trash ending up in landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. 

However, recycling in Minnesota is around 45% and has remained stagnant in recent years, but it's far less than Minnesota’s goal of a 75% recycling rate by 2030. The MPCA said more than two-thirds of the trash that ends up in landfills could be recycled or reused. 

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"To protect our air, land, and water, we must do more to meet our waste reduction, recycling, and composting goals," said Kirk Koudelka, assistant commissioner for land policy and strategic initiatives at the MPCA. "These goals are ambitious. Meeting them will require deep collaboration between local governments, individuals, and businesses. I encourage metro residents to review the recommendations included in this plan and share their perspectives."

Recommendations in the Metro Solid Waste Policy Plan include: 

  • Collecting recycling weekly in all seven metro counties by 2025
  • Collecting recyclables, organics, and trash on the same day
  • Making residential curbside composting collection available in cities with a population greater than 5,000
  • Providing grants to businesses and organizations for software to track food waste
  • Adopting an ordinance with a mandatory consumer charge for take-out single-use cups, containers, and utensils
  • Improving recycling data collection at businesses

The public can submit input on the plan through August, which can be done online here. A public meeting for the waste management plan will be hosted on July 1. Once the plan is finalized, the MPCA will help local governments and businesses implement the recommendations to help reduce trash and meet the 75% recycling goal. 

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