Hennepin County pressures Mpls. to start household composting

Hennepin County has given the city of Minneapolis until the end of the year to institute a residential composting program. The county wants the city to start collecting food waste and composting it, similar to the way it collects recycling.

County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said the deadline will motivate the city to move quickly.

“There’s way too much garbage from Hennepin County that’s being thrown into a landfill, right now,” said McLaughlin. “And so this is an effort to mobilize our cities to get on with creating a composting program. We think that’s the next step in dealing with solid waste and we’re going to pursue it.”

Under a resolution passed by the Hennepin County Board, Minneapolis could lose funding for its recycling program if it fails to meet the deadline.

Minneapolis officials call the Jan. 1 deadline daunting. Public Works Director Steve Kotke said rolling out a new program like that would require lots of new equipment.

“There’s quite a lead time on both trucks and ordering carts. So that in itself would make it challenging to hit that first-of-the-year date,” Kotke said.

A city report released last year estimated a composting program would cost at least $2.8 million a year — about $26 per household.

  • Minneapolis rolled out recycling carts citywide in a matter of months. That’s not the problem. Securing trucks and carts is just a matter of spending the money, which has been on a tight leash the past five years. The city will need to hire and train additional personnel and organize the routes efficiently, and that is where it gets trickier, but the solid waste and recycling division of public works has strong leadership and a dedicated staff in place to carry this out seamlessly. If every resident makes an effort to participate in this program we can remove over 40% from the waste stream in some neighborhoods. This will have huge impact environmentally, and is well worth the initial investment.