Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Single Stream Recycling

The Solid Waste and Recycling Division of Public Works has returned with their recommendation on the Minneapolis recycling program: we should move to a single sort system.  You can read the executive summary here and a very interesting powerpoint here.

Some of the key findings:
  • A single sort system will allow us to increase the amount of waste being recycled from our current, rather dismal 18% up to 32%.  That's still not as high as I'd like it to be, but it's a major improvement.  According to the study, a dual sort system would also increase waste diversion, but only to 25%.
  • Processing for commingled recycling has gotten better, and processing costs are basically equal between single and dual sort.
  • Staff are projecting that a single sort recycling program will cost the City 20% less to operate than the current multi-sort system, even taking the upfront costs for a new recycling cart for all Minneapolis residents into account, while increasing the amount of recyclable material we collect.
  • The trend among similar cities is clearly moving towards a single-stream system.
  • A single stream system is arguably more compatible with source-separated organics collection, because the two combined would only require three carts, not four.
The Council's Transportation and Public Works committee approved staff's recommendation to move forward on changing our recycling system to single stream.  This will come before the Council next week, and I will enthusiastically support it.  It's well past time for us to get serious about increasing our recycling rate, to pull reusable material out of the waste that goes to the garbage burner downtown.  A single stream collection program will be easier for residents to use, increase the recycling rate and decrease costs.  This change is a win-win-win, and I'm thrilled we're moving forward on it.


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