Nov 19 - Minnesota Tracks Recyclables In The Trash

Minnesota is looking to reduce the amount of material being sent to landfills and reclaim the estimated $217 million worth of recyclable materials that ended up in the trash this year alone, according to the Star Tribune.

A study by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency revealed that about one-third of the 3.6 million tons of material going into Minnesota landfills could be recycled, including paper, cardboard, plastic and organic material. Of particular interest: beverage containers and food waste.

Officials at Eureka Recycling, the zero-waste nonprofit based in St. Paul, say one in three bottled beverages are now consumed away from home. But establishing functional recycling systems in shopping malls, parks and other public places is difficult.

This is fueling the debate about whether Minnesota should adopt a Beverage Container Recycling program similar to California’s Bottle Bill. It would place a 10 cent deposit on aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers. It’s estimated that it could increase recycling rates up to 80 percent.

CAW supports Minnesota’s efforts to establish a Bottle Bill. Deposit laws such as the Bottle Bill are the most effective way to prevent the littering of single-use items. Consider that although the consumption of beverage containers in urban areas is highly prevalent, Bottle Bill containers are not a large component of urban litter, as measured by cleanup studies.

Also at issue in Minnesota landfills: food waste.

Organics — all that leftover spaghetti, banana peels and used paper towels — are another potential valuable commodity to farmers and urban gardeners. A handful of communities collect it now, and the number is expected to rise when the PCA completes guidelines for organic collection in coming months. The number of commercial composting facilities is also growing, Gjerde said.

A study revealed that families in St. Paul were throwing away an average of $100 worth of food each month. Consumers can help reduce food waste by taking a few simple steps: sharing meals, eating smaller portions, donating unspoiled or nonperishable food, composting, saving and eating leftovers.

Click here for more ideas.

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