The Twin Cities area has a trash problem, state pollution control agency says

garbage truck dumps load of trash into a huge pile of refuse
A garbage truck dumps a load of trash at an unidentified landfill in Minnesota. The metro area is falling short of its 75 percent recycling goal as more landfills run out of space.
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says the seven-county metro area needs to do a better job of reducing the amount of waste that's going into landfills. The agency released a draft Metro Solid Waste Policy Plan that includes 70 recommendations for improving what they call the area’s growing waste problem.

“Collectively the seven-county metro area produces about 3.3 million tons of waste each year. That's about a ton per person. More than half of it is disposed of, so that means it's not being reused, recycled or composted,” said Kirk Koudelka, who works on strategic initiatives at the agency.

The agency estimates that the amount of waste produced will grow 19 percent by 2042.

Once the proposal is completed, the MPCA will pass along the 20-year plan to each of the seven metro-area counties to help inform their individual waste-reduction plans.

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He said the MPCA wants recommendations from the public on ways to reduce, reuse and recycle more.

“Recycling rates have remained stagnant in recent years around 45 percent — far less than the state’s goal of achieving a 75 percent recycling rate by 2030. Some counties are seeing a decrease in recycling rates,” a statement from the MPCA said.

Kirk Koudelka
MPCA Assistant Commissioner for Land Policy and Strategic Initiatives Kirk Koudelka
Mark Zdechlik

Among the ideas under consideration is asking counties to mandate weekly recycling collection. Koudelka says state officials will likely require metro counties to begin curbside composting.

Other strategies include a mandatory consumer charge for single-use takeout containers and grants for businesses to reduce food waste. 

The public can provide input on the plan through August. The MPCA will host a public meeting on the plan on July 11 and hold community presentations in each of the seven metro counties throughout the summer.

“Once the plan is finalized, the MPCA will help local governments and businesses implement the recommendations to reduce the amount of trash in Twin Cities landfills and meet our goal of achieving a 75 percent recycling rate by 2030,” the agency said in a statement.