Minnesota’s plan to fix its trash problem

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced on Tuesday its 20-year plan to reduce the amount of trash going into Twin Cities landfills. 

More than 3 million tons of trash are generated in Twin Cities metro area every year, and it only continues to grow. MPCA officials say at the current rate, local landfills will quickly run out of space.

Officials are calling for a 15% reduction in the amount of solid waste that winds up in landfills. The Metropolitan Solid Waste Policy Plan outlines 70 recommendations for improving how the seven-county metro area manages its growing waste problems. The changes range from required curbside compost pick-up, grants for businesses to reduce food waste, to fees for single-use take-out containers.

"Because of a large number of voices concerned about food waste and organics, we've added another strategy for counties to implement special programs to help large generators of food waste, whether it's grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, food processors to be able to better manage their materials," said Kirk Koudelka, assistant commissioner for land policy and strategic initiatives at the MPCA.

Additionally, the MPCA says there has been some improvement in recycling within the Twin Cities as the recycling rate rose to 49% in 2022. However, it’s still far from the state’s goal of 75% by 2030. 

The MPCA recommends ways for the public to reduce their overall waste including:

  • "Buying used" when possible.
  • Extending the lifetime of clothes, household items, electronics, and other products.
  • Working "reusable" products into their daily routines — replacing shopping bags, food, and beverage containers, and other items typically thrown away or recycled.
  • Committing to composting food waste for a month for residents who have never tried.

The MPCA says it will meet with county governments over the next nine months to help determine how to meet the requirements of the Metro Solid Waste Plan. 

To read the full plan, visit the MPCA's website here