Recycling goes commercial

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People who contract for trash services for Minneapolis commercial buildings will be required to offer recycling services beginning Sept. 1.

Minneapolis has had residential recycling since the 1980s, providing it for homes that receive city trash-hauling service and requiring it of contracted firms that provide residential service in the city. Until now, however, it’s been optional for commercial properties.

Most businesses already recycle, according to a June 6 memo from city staff, requesting action from the City Council. “The Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce and Building Owners and Managers Association have both conducted surveys of their members on the topic of recycling. The results indicated that over 90 percent of businesses currently recycle, with the supermajority recycling paper, cardboard, glass, metal and plastic.”

Minneapolis 1st Ward City Council Member Kevin Reich said the city has been preparing for this step for a while. “We did run a pilot,” he said, that produced “very favorable results.

“It wasn’t too much of a negative adjustment,” he said, and it proved to be “a good experience.”

While the pilot project was not conducted in Northeast, he said, the recycling process isn’t likely to be much different here. “Even though Central Avenue has bigger buildings,” he said, the recycling requirement should not be difficult for building owners.

He noted that the city will not be providing the recycling for commercial buildings, just as it does not provide trash service for them. “It’s like the existing system. Building owners can go with the provider of their choice. We’re not changing that.”

Under the new rules, building owners are required to provide:

  • Regular recycling collection (at least twice a month) for all materials generated on-site deemed recyclable in Minneapolis, including paper, cardboard, metal cans, plastic bottles, and glass bottles and jars;
  • Recycling containers;
  • Recycling collection and storage areas;
  • Written recycling information and instructions sent to tenants and/or employees annually or posted;
  • A written recycling plan.

 

“We want everyone to know that recycling is simply the way we deal with waste in Minneapolis,” said Council Member Cam Gordon, vice chair of the City Council’s Regulatory, Energy and Environment Committee and chief author of the ordinance, according to a city news release. “The broad-based support for this, from residents and business owners alike, demonstrates that the consensus we have is that we need to recycle more and send less trash to garbage burners and landfills. It is my hope that this will push us to do more to make this a greener, cleaner city.”

City officials plan to enforce the requirement through the Minneapolis Fire Department’s building inspections program. “In addition, tenants, employees, haulers or others can report out-of-compliance properties or businesses,” according to the city staff memo.

“The penalty for noncompliance will include a written warning and, if noncompliance continues, an administrative citation fine of $200 that will increase in amount with each consecutive violation. After significant, lasting and intentional noncompliance, the City may revoke the certificate of commercial building registration.”

Property owners can find a step-by-step guide to setting up a new recycling system at RethinkRecycling.com/business. Hennepin County also provides technical assistance and education resources at www.hennepin. us/businesswaste.

Property owners with questions about this new recycling requirement can call the City of Minneapolis at 311 or 612-673-3000.