Organics recycling

Organics — which includes food scraps and food-soiled paper — makes up about a quarter of our garbage. Instead of going in the trash, organics can be recycled or reused.

Organics recycling for businesses, organizations and schools

Implementing organics recycling programs allows businesses, organizations and schools to expand their recycling programs, ease their burden on the environment, potentially reduce taxes and fees on waste disposal, and show customers that they care about the community.

Businesses, organizations and schools have three main options for recycling organic waste:

  • Food-to-people: donate edible food to organizations that help people in need
  • Food-to-animals: food scraps are processed into feed for livestock
  • Organics composting: food waste, soiled paper and compostable foodware is recycled into compost, a valuable soil amendment

Organics recycling for residents

Residents can recycle organic waste at home with backyard or worm composting, and some residents can sign up for curbside organics recycling service. Learn more about organics recycling for residents.

Organics recycling at events

Event planners can add organics recycling to event with the county's portable recycling containers.

Organics drop-off

The following drop-off locations for organics recycling are available. Quantity limits, residency and other restrictions may apply.

Learn about dropping off organics at our Brooklyn Park drop-off facility.

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Food-to-people donation programs

Help your community and environment

Donating surplus prepared food helps local hunger-relief agencies serve those in need, including many children and seniors.
Donating food also helps the environment by preventing waste. When food is wasted, the water, energy, fertilizer and cropland that went into producing the food is wasted, too.

You are protected from liability

Food donors are protected by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Act, which was passed into federal law in 1996. Organizations that donate food in good faith to a nonprofit for distribution to needy individuals are not subject to civil or criminal liability that arises from the condition of the food.

Save money on your taxes

The federal tax code allows a deduction for donated food. Eligible businesses can deduct the lesser of either (a) twice the cost of acquiring the donated food or (b) the cost of acquiring the donated food, plus one-half of the food’s expected profit margin, if it were sold at its fair market value. Contact your tax professional to determine its application to your business.

How to get started

1. Identify foods you can donate

Licensed food establishments can donate food that has not been served (e.g., leftover food from a buffet may not be donated). Hunger-relief organizations are most in need of entrees, soups, sandwiches, yogurt parfaits and other healthy, prepared foods. Review these food donation guidelines (PDF) to understand how to keep the food safe. Use a log sheet (DOCX) to track how donated food is handled.

2. Find an organization that will take your food

Call a hunger-relief organization and let them know what you have and the quantity. The recipient organization must have a food license. The following organizations are a good place to start:

  • Sharing and Caring Hands, 525 N 7th St, Minneapolis, 612-338-4640
  • Peace House Community, 1816 Portland Ave S, Minneapolis, 612-870-7263
  • Catholic Charities Opportunity Center, 740 17th St E., Minneapolis, 612-204-8300
  • Community Bridge, 2400 Park Ave S, Minneapolis, 612-746-4108

3. Arrange for delivery of the food

Talk to your staff about donating food. Some of the food establishments that donate food have found an employee who champions the effort and will volunteer to deliver the food.
Hennepin County has trained volunteers who will come to your location and transport your food to a hunger-relief agency. To learn more, contact Nancy Lo at 612-348-9195.

4. Get recognized for your efforts

Join industry leaders such as Eastside Food Co-op, Lunds & Byerlys and Gastrotruck to be recognized as a Hennepin County Environmental Partner. Partners that donate edible food receive a window decal, a listing in the directory and resources to help you communicate to your customers that you care about the community.

Food-to-animals programs

Food that is no longer safe for people to eat can still find a use. By contracting with a farmer or recycler, your food waste will be hauled away and processed into animal feed.

Food-to-animals organics recycling programs accept most:

  • Food prep waste
  • Plate waste
  • Unpackaged spoiled or outdated food
  • Unpackaged frozen food

Note: Some food-to-animals programs cannot accept meat or coffee grounds.


Local farms collect your food scraps on-site. Before being fed to livestock, food scraps are cooked and processed to eliminate harmful bacteria.

For collection ease, the farms provide businesses with lined plastic carts on wheels that they wash out and re-line after pick-up. Pick-up is offered up to six times a week.

The following farms provide food-to-livestock programs:

  • Barthold Recycling: St. Francis, MN; 763-444-7447
  • No Rest Ranch: Cambridge, MN: 763-689-4615
  • Second Harvest Farms: Cedar, MN; 763-434-9044
  • Second Harvest Farms (North): Isanti, MN; 763-286-5557

Food-to-animal feed manufacturing

Endres Processing collects and processes bakery goods and food by-products to produce nutritious livestock feed ingredients. Collected food waste is delivered to a manufacturing plant in Rosemount, Minnesota where it is processed into various feed products and then sold and shipped to livestock producers.

Endres supplies on-site collection equipment and services their customers with company-owned trucks 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

Organics composting

In an organics composting program, all food scraps, soiled paper, food-service items and certified compostable plastic foodware are placed in a single container. A hauler picks up the waste and delivers it to a composting facility. After six to nine months, the material has been recycled into compost that is put to good use in landscaping and road construction projects.

Finished compost is an organic-rich soil amendment that is used to improve soils, prevent soil erosion and runoff, and capture carbon dioxide for climate protection.

Materials accepted

All food waste, including produce, meat, poultry, seafood, shellfish, bones, rice, pasta, bakery items, cheese, coffee grounds, eggshells and more.

All food-soiled paper products including:

  • Paper plates, trays and cups
  • Paper towels, placemats and napkins
  • Parchment paper
  • Egg cartons and trays
  • Pizza boxes and other paper food containers
  • Waxed cardboard boxes

Certified compostable foodservice items

Commercial organics composting haulers

For haulers and contact information, see the list of haulers that collect organics for composting.

Organics composting facilities

Organics composting haulers

The following haulers collect organics for composting in Hennepin County. This list was last updated July 2017.

Aspen Waste Systems


Tom Heuer, 612-884-8000

Service offered

Commercial collection only

Dick's Sanitation


Jeff Weast, 612-849-8875,

Service offered

Commercial collection only

LePage & Sons



Service offered

Commercial collection only

Randy's Environmental Services


Dave Hepfl, 763-972-4123

Service offered

Commercial and residential collection

Republic Services


Ray Donnelly, 952-946-5255,

Service offered

Commercial collection only

Sanimax - Organics


Andy Barnaal, 651-451-6858

Service offered

Commercial collection only

Vierkant Disposal


Gary Vierkant, 612-922-2505

Service offered

Residential collection in Edina only

Waste Management


Service offered

Commercial and residential collection

Compostable bags and foodservice ware

As part of your organics recycling program, you may be interested in using disposable foodservice ware that is compostable or collecting organic waste in compostable plastic bags. If you are using these items, you will want to make sure that the materials are certified as compostable.

Certification for compostable plastics

Look for the labelBiodegradable Products Institute label

The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) is the North American certifying body for compostable plastics. Look for the BPI logo on the products you purchase. You can also check to see whether a product meets the BPI standards for compostability at

Ask questions

When purchasing products, be sure to ask if what you are buying is certified compostable. Don’t be fooled by products marketed as “degradable”, “biodegradable”, or “made from plants”. Also, some companies that offer BPI certified products may also offer non-compostable products that look similar. Be sure to check to ensure you are buying what you intend to buy!

Local vendors of compostable plastic bags and foodservice ware

Vendor Products
Advance Sales
Eric Jensen/Dan Gerhard
Greenware® cups, lids, containers
GenPak Harvest® Fiber and Paper bowls, plates, cups and containers
Natur-Tec® bags
Sabert TerraPac™ PLA containers
Aset Supply and Paper
Bob Taubman
763-544-3788 / 763-438-2151(c)
Indaco Bag to Nature™ bags
Maria McCarthy

Primeware® clamshells, trays, bowls, containers, hot cups and lids, cutlery

Bare® by Solo® plates, cups, lids, containers

GenPak Harvest® fiber plates, bowls, cups, lids and containers

Fabri-Kai Greenware® cold cups and lids, containers, and portion cups

Mike Morin
651-429-1100 ext. 186
Eco Works® and Eco Film® bags
Simon Hefty
612-607-5704 / 651-329-8935(c)
Heritage Bio-Tuf® and BioBag® bags
World Centric and Eco-Products® cups, containers, plates, bowls, straws, utensils, straws, plastic wrap
Northern Technologies
Mia Thomton
Natur-Tec® bags
Natur-Tec® cutlery
Plastic Bagmart
Mark Greenstein
Natur-Tec® bags
Natur-Tec® cutlery
Organix Solutions
Brenda Anderson
Blue Bag organics bags
Green Bag Organix bags
Jason Whelan
Renewables™ cups
Renewables™ lids
Sysco MN
Dee Ann Bischel
Heritage Bio-Tuf® bags
Greenware® cups, lids, containers
Eco-Products® cups, plates, bowls, containers, straws
Upper Midwest Gourmet
Kevin Selig
Eco-Products® cups, plates, bowls, containers, straws
Ecotainer™ cups
BioBag® bags

State contract for purchasing compostable plastic bags

All public entities in Minnesota and Wisconsin as well as certain tax-exempt, non-profit entities and charitable organizations can purchase compostable plastic bags through a state contract.

To purchase compostable plastic bags through the state contract, you must be a member of the Cooperative Purchasing Venture (CPV). There is no cost to be a member.

Contract B-351(5) can be accessed through the Minnesota Department of Administration by calling 651-296-2600.

Resources and assistance

Free assistance, signage and funding

Hennepin County has free assistance, signage and funding available for businesses, organizations and schools interested in starting or improving organics recycling programs.

  • Businesses and organizations — Get grants for recycling containers and supplies, container signage and free assistance.
  • Schools — Get grants, container signage and free assistance for both private and public schools.
  • Multifamily buildings — Resources for property owners, including container signage and educational information for your residents.
  • Events — Reserve portable containers to collect recycling and organics at events.


These videos explain the three options for recycling organics and are a good tool for training employees.

Contact the Organics Program Coordinator at 612-348-5893 to have a DVD sent to you.

Videos in English

Videos in Spanish

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