Pizza delivery boxes, used napkins and paper towels, and empty egg cartons? Yes!
Fast-food wrappers and cleaning or baby wipes? No!
These are just a few of the many rules to know if you’re among the Eden Prairie households that plan to participate in curbside organics recycling when it’s offered by local garbage haulers Nov. 1 or earlier.
In fact, how to keep unacceptable materials from the organics-recycling stream has been one of the key obstacles to getting this new program underway, even though Hennepin County has been working to implement it for decades.
That helps form the over-arching message that Jennifer Hassebroek, the City of Eden Prairie’s sustainability coordinator, wants to convey to local households that will opt in to the service:
“If you’re not sure something goes in organics recycling, keep it out,” she said. “If you don’t know, put in your trash.”
She’s been working on the program with Eden Prairie’s five residential-waste haulers since last summer.
Their primary worry is having trucks with loads of organics turned away from plants because those loads are contaminated by other materials, including plastic and cans that should have gone in the home’s other recycling bin, she said.
So, their hope is that residents can quickly get acquainted with what’s permitted and what’s not.
County mandates organics recycling
Eden Prairie’s opt-in program meets Hennepin County’s requirements that larger cities provide curbside organics recycling for certain residences by Jan. 1, 2022.
The county has been working on its recycling ordinances since the mid-1980s and approved organics-recycling requirements in 2018. The program has been phased in; some businesses with lots of food waste have been recycling organic materials for some time, Hassebroek said.
The new program for homeowners will be a subscription-like system, with a fee, for single-family homes up to fourplexes, along with other residential households that already have their own collection container for mixed recyclables.
“It’s very similar to yard waste in that way,” Hassebroek said.
Haulers have some leeway in how they provide curbside organics recycling, she added. Some may provide a separate bin or cart; others may provide compostable bags.
Suburban Waste Services is one of those that will be providing Eden Prairie subscribers an organics-recycling bin, said owner and Eden Prairie resident Paul Rosland.
That way the hauler can eyeball the material at the curb and remove any materials that shouldn’t be there, or leave a note for the homeowner, before the waste is hauled to the county’s transfer station in Brooklyn Park.
“We’re all for it,” Rosland said about organics recycling. “We look at it as another service we provide. The tough part is going to be the education and (potential) contamination.”
He’s had some experience with organics recycling in Carver County, where it’s been an effort to educate homeowners.
Hassebroek believes there’s a demand for organics recycling, based on telephone calls she receives.
One-fourth to one-third of our trash is organic materials – including food, food-soiled paper, and certified compostable products – that can be composted, making this area ripe for action.
“If you can only (recycle) food, that’s still a huge improvement,” she said.
The city is looking at providing an incentive program to increase participation, but no decision has been made yet.
(Do you live in a multi-tenant building that won’t be included in the city’s new organics-recycling program? Hennepin County has information about where you can drop off organics to achieve the same end.)