Recycling

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Why This Is Important

The measure of the percentage of the residential solid waste stream that is recycled (tonnage) is important because it indicates the extent to which Minneapolis Solid Waste customers participate in recycling programs, and the percentage of our waste that is recycled into new products instead of being incinerated. Each item that is recycled diverts waste and weight from what the City sends to the Hennepin County garbage burner, hence holding down our garbage disposal costs. The positive effects on the environment of recycling are also driving forces to this measure.

What's Being Done

The City of Minneapolis is seeking to have 50 percent of all solid waste be recycled by 2013. To achieve this target, the City will further educate its customers about the important reasons to recycle. In addition, the City is always looking for innovative ways to reduce the amount of waste that goes to the garbage burner. One example is a pilot program it recently launched where all organic material in a Minneapolis neighborhood is collected for composting, a form of organic recycling.

A challenge to achieving this target is that materials that are recyclable are weighing less. Plastic bottles, aluminum cans and even newspapers are getting thinner and lighter. That means that on a year-to-year basis, a community can have the same number of bottles, cans or newspapers recycled and still see the total weight of recycling materials decrease, which would give the appearance that fewer people are recycling. Some cities overcome this apparent "decrease" in recycling percentage by taking over commercial recycling accounts, mandating commercial recycling or requiring that construction and demolition waste be recycled, with tonnages included in the recycling program statistics.

About This Measure

Data for this chart comes from the tonnage of material weighed after solid waste trucks finish their routes each day. Data is from the entire city but does not include any commercial recycling. See Solid Waste & Recycling statistics for solid waste tonnage information back to 1993.

Last updated Feb. 23, 2012

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