“These goals are very outdated. They don’t even acknowledge the incredible potential of organics composting,” said state Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis. “One of the reasons to do it now is we’ve seen a dramatic change in the nature of the waste stream. It’s a reality check in terms of what the waste stream looks like and responding to that.”
Hornstein’s bill would increase the metro recycling goal to 75 percent, which includes expanded organics recycling. According to a recent report from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, nearly a third of what consumers throw away is food waste and other organic material.
Doing a better job of recycling and composting in the metro will cost money initially. But Hornestein said that would save millions in the long run. He proposes redirecting some of the state’s solid waste tax to fund local recycling programs instead of sending it to the state’s general fund.
The 75 percent goal came out of a separate report the MPCA did on metro area recycling, Hornstein said.
“It’s not random. It’s been studied. We know we can achieve it; we know we can get there,” he said. “So the key here is putting it in state law so that everyone knows that we’re serious about it.”
Waste Management, the largest recycling and trash hauler in Minnesota, isn’t sold on increasing recycling goals yet.
“We do have some concern with increasing goals in part because in the past those goals have not been seen simply as goals,” said Julie Ketchum, the industry group’s director of government affairs. “They become standards to meet. In some ways it promotes government involvement that affects a free market system.”
But unlike the deposit bill, which Waste Management opposed outright, officials are meeting with lawmakers to find common ground. As for the potential 10-cent deposit on cans, prospects are uncertain. It could depend on which political party is in charge after the November elections for governor and the Minnesota House.
Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard in Mankato on 90.5 FM or at MPRnews.org.