Our commitment to advancing a zero-waste future

The Zero Waste Plan project team provided a briefing on January 12, 2023, to the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners on the plan development process, key findings from community engagement and research, and recommended plan actions.

The commissioners were presented key findings from the first phase of community engagement, which included conversations conducted by a cohort of 18 community groups, online feedback tools, and listening sessions with industry stakeholders. They also heard a summary of research that examined what other communities around the world are doing to achieve zero-waste goals along with a gaps analysis that identified the county’s current successes and opportunities for improvement.

The team provided an overview of the proposed actions for the county’s Zero Waste Plan, which were developed by action planning work groups comprised of community members and industry stakeholders.

View the Zero Waste Plan briefing presentation (PDF).

Overall, commissioners were broadly supportive of and energized by the actions presented. They encouraged staff to continue to bring forward the highest impact suggestions and actions, even if they require investment and advocacy for policy changes at the state and city level.

Commissioners were also impressed by and appreciative of the work done by community members and industry to create the county’s Zero Waste Plan actions.

County administrators wrapped up the briefing by noting the county has historically led in investing significantly in the waste management system and recognizing how this plan and the board’s support signifies we are ready to take the next big step.

Commissioners offered these initial priorities during the briefing discussion:

  • Prioritize climate action and the health of our residents by advancing strategies in the Climate Action Plan, especially for materials that have the greatest climate impacts such as food waste and building materials.
  • Make sure everyone sees themselves as part of the solution by understanding how engagement, challenges, and solutions differ for those living in different areas of the county.
  • Continue to navigate tensions among our aspirational goal, our residents’ desires, and the need to act urgently with the operational reality and the transformative changes needed.
  • Address long-standing disparities by increasing equity in access, especially in multifamily settings.
  • Expand opportunities for living-wage, green jobs.
  • Expand and optimize the county’s existing education and assistance programs.
  • Pursue development of an anaerobic digestion facility, with priority to use the energy in forms that are hardest to decarbonize to maximize climate benefits.
  • Maximize the use of the policy tools and authorities the county has now and pursue new policies and funding from the state.
  • Address single-use products and producer responsibility for packaging.
  • Use the county’s purchasing power to advance sustainable actions.
  • Maximize recovery through recycling, organics, and additional drop-off programs, then pursue options to get the last items out of the trash.
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