Recycling is for the 1 percent

St. Paul, why aren’t you interested in recycling?

Is it that you’re uneducated, poor, and rent instead of own your home?

MPR’s Curtis Gilbert today provides a fascinating story on the idea of recycling food waste.

Linden Hills in Minneapolis, the East Calhoun area and parts of the Hiawatha, Longfellow and Seward neighborhoods are trying it out and apparently it’s working quite well. But they’ve got money.

But the suggestion landed with an emphatic “thud” in Saint Paul, and not in a particularly delicate way, according to the story:

For the last two years, a group of St. Paul residents has been pushing the city to join the movement. But city environmental policy director Anne Hunt said most people likely would not participate.

“If you’re upper income, you’re well-educated, you own your own home, you’re more likely to recycle and, yes, you’re more interested in doing the composting piece,” Hunt said. “But that is not the vast majority of the residents of St. Paul.”

That smackdown would appear to rank up there with Gov. Ventura’s complaints about Saint Paul streets being designed by drunken Irishmen. But apparently it’s true.

The well-heeled neighborhoods of Saint Paul lead in recycling; the working-class neighborhoods are at the bottom of the heap. Recycling rates are lowest among African Americans, according to a recent report.

  • Ben

    There is more to the story. Last year Eureka Recycling (which handles St. Paul recycling and would also handle the curbside composting) wanted to get composting into the budget, but that deal also included extending their contract by eight (as I recall) years, which may have killed the deal.

    This year no contract extension was proposed, but it was still not budgeted, saying they will take composting into account in 2017 when the current recycling contract is up.

    This also seems like a chicken and egg problem. Do we wait until residents understand what curbside composting is before rolling it out? Or do we provide the option in unison with the education?