Share your ideas for a zero-waste future

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Our vision for zero waste

Hennepin County is developing a Zero Waste Plan. Our zero-waste vision is a system where all materials are designed to become resources for others to use. Our definition of zero waste is preventing 90% or more of all discarded materials from being landfilled or incinerated. Learn more in the news and updates section.

Achieving zero waste will require significant changes in the choices we all make in our day-to-day lives and transformative changes in the policies, programs and resources that make up the solid waste system.

Share your stories, thoughts, ideas and questions:

Our vision for zero waste

Hennepin County is developing a Zero Waste Plan. Our zero-waste vision is a system where all materials are designed to become resources for others to use. Our definition of zero waste is preventing 90% or more of all discarded materials from being landfilled or incinerated. Learn more in the news and updates section.

Achieving zero waste will require significant changes in the choices we all make in our day-to-day lives and transformative changes in the policies, programs and resources that make up the solid waste system.

Share your stories, thoughts, ideas and questions:

Do you have any questions for us?

Add any questions that you have for us here. You can also review other's questions and our answers. 

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    Hell- I am sustainable interior designer and I am looking for data points on how one family/household can make a difference when they reuse Houshold goods and furnishings when remodeling/designing their home.

    Christine asked 9 months ago

    600 million tons of construction and demolition (C&D) waste was generated in the United States in 2018 - more than twice the amount of household trash. In the Twin Cities metro area, only about 20% of C&D waste material is recycled. Reusing furnishings and other building materials during remodeling projects helps reduce the amount of C&D waste going to landfills. Donating or selling items from a renovation project instead of throwing them away allows that material to get a second (or third or fourth!) life in another project. It’s also great to incorporate salvaged building materials back into new designs. Not only can these materials offer unique, one-of-a-kind character to your project, but they also reduce embodied emissions from new materials.

    Reuse Minnesota is a local organization that works to promote the reuse sector and may be of interest to you.

    Here is a related Choose to Reuse article with general resources on Green Remodeling.

    -Amy Maas

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    I have observed that some restaurants and delis are providing compostable containers when you purchase food. HOWEVER, the organics recycling program has a specific certification logo that is accepted and often these containers don’t contain it. Why doesn’t the county communicate with these businesses to provide for customers, the containers that the program accepts so people don’t start wish-composting in addition to their wish-cycling? I am concerned that the compostables are not as rigorously screened as the recyclables!

    Debbie K asked 9 months ago

    Hennepin County doesn’t have any requirements about what businesses use as packaging, although we do have advice on best practices when businesses choose to use something compostable.

    There are cases where a BPI certification is provided on a box but not on individual containers, which can be a difficult challenge to overcome. Signs and customer education go a long way in this case, and the county does provide business recycling support to help businesses make it more clear. Learn more about the types of support the county provides.

    We don’t always know what businesses need help, so you are more than welcome to share our resources with the business or provide them the feedback that their recycling and organics program might need some help.

    As a customer, you can look for a BPI logo on the products or the term “certified compostable”. Either of these indicate that a product can be composted. Alternately, you can ask the business if the packaging they are using has BPI certification. When in doubt, throw a package in the trash so as not to “wish-compost,” as you suggest. If you have the time and energy, you could visit the BPI website and search for the brand and product to see if it has the certification.

    For restaurants in Minneapolis, there are specific requirements about what a business is allowed to give out as packaging, so check out this site about the Green to Go packaging ordinance.

    St. Louis Park has a similar ordinance, with information here.

    -Amy Maas

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    Why is there such a big emphasis on Recycling? When I focus my buying and my lifestyle on Reducing, I discovered that I not only had significantly less trash, but significantly less recycling as well. Shouldn’t the County’s emphasis be on Reducing?

    Debbie K asked 9 months ago

    Hi Debbie- that’s great that you focus on reducing you waste so that you produce both less trash and recycling! We encourage you to do the same here at the County. In fact, in Minnesota we have a waste management hierarchy that guides us on preferred management practices. This hierarchy identifies an order of preference for managing wastes with land disposal as the least preferred method. It was designed to protect public health, air, water, and soil, while supporting a vibrant economy and the wise use of resources. At the top of the hierarchy is waste prevention and reuse which means not creating the waste in the first place. After waste prevention and reuse is recycling (turning the material into a new product). So you are correct, reducing is most preferred and we encourage others to do the same!

    At Hennepin County we have a variety of initiatives that encourage residents to focus on waste reduction and reuse. Check out our Choose to Reuse program where we focus on encouraging residents to reduce waste by buying used items instead of new, and by keeping usable things out of the trash through donations, rental, repair, and repurposing. We also have Fix-It Clinics, where you can bring your broken household goods and clothing in need of repair. With guidance from volunteers with repair skills, residents can disassemble, troubleshoot, and (hopefully) fix small housing appliances, clothing, electronics, and more.

    -Lianna Goldstein

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    Where can I recycle plastic bags?

    ndhk asked 10 months ago

    Hi- great question! Plastic bags can be brought to retailers that offer specialty plastic bag recycling locations across the county. Some stores that have plastic bag collection include grocery stores like Cub and Target. For plastic bag recycling locations in the Twin Cities, check out this drop off directory: BagandFilmRecycling.org.

    Plastic bags are NOT accepted in curbside recycling programs. Don’t forget to separate and clean plastic bags first, then take them to a retailer that offers plastic bag recycling. Hope this helps and keep up the great work!

    -Lianna

Page last updated: 12 Jan 2023, 02:24 PM