City of Minneapolis struggles to enforce recycling

Some landlords don’t offer recycling to their tenants, and the City of Minneapolis doesn’t have the resources to find all the problem property owners.

The city requires property owners of more than two apartments to give their tenants recycling containers and tell them about the program.

Kellie Kish, Minneapolis recycling coordinator, said the city lacks personnel to monitor whether landlords are following the ordinance or not. In the past, the city didn’t strictly enforce the rule, but Kish said the Department of Solid Waste and Recycling is now fining landlords “to a tee.”

Katie Christianson, a University of Minnesota communications senior, said she isn’t aware of a recycling program at her Dinkytown home. Because she can’t recycle there, she collects her recyclables and brings them to her parent’s house. Christanson said she wishes her building had recycling.

“Everyone should at least have the option to recycle,” she said.

While the city now offers single-sort recycling, landowners with more than two units still have to contract waste removal from a private company.

The ordinance also requires landlords to give their tenants written information — provided by the city — about the building’s recycling program.

Daniel Oberpriller, who owns more than 20 properties near the University of Minnesota, said he’s aware it’s a problem that some landlords don’t have recycling, but having it is “non-negotiable” for him.

When the city finds out that a property owner isn’t providing “adequate” recycling containers, the DSWR sends a letter informing them to start. If that’s ineffective, the landlord could face a $100 fine and up to $700 for further offenses.

Kish said the city mainly relies on residents calling the DSWR to report that they don’t have recycling.

To help the city find properties without recycling, a group of University volunteers will patrol local neighborhoods on Sept. 22 for a Thank U service day project during Homecoming week, Kish said.

Recent graduate Emily Hegland said she had problems with recycling this spring. The building she lived in had recycling, but the containers weren’t big enough to hold everything during move-out.

Hegland said her landlord told residents they “couldn’t leave anything else on the curb” and that they’d be charged for anything outside of the container.

“It should be easier and better explained how to get rid of your trash,” she said.