Organics recycling for residents

About 25 percent of what we throw away is organics, food scraps and food-soiled paper products. In organics recycling programs, waste is recycled into valuable compost used in landscaping and road construction projects.

In several cities, residents can add organics collection to their trash collection service. Hennepin County is working to make organics recycling programs an option for more county residents. 

If curbside collection of organics is not currently offered in your community, you can still reduce waste by composting in your back yard or dropping off your organics at the Brooklyn Park drop-off facility.

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Curbside organics recycling

Organics recycling programs

Organics recycling programs are offered by haulers in the following cities. If you live in an area where organics collection is an option, contact your city recycling coordinator or waste hauler for more information. See a list of haulers that collect organics for composting.

  • Bloomington
  • Edina (Morningside neighborhood)
  • Loretto
  • Maple Plain
  • Medicine Lake
  • Medina
  • Minneapolis (Linden Hills, ECCO and parts of Seward, Longfellow and Howe neighborhoods)
  • Minnetonka
  • Orono
  • Richfield
  • St. Bonifacius
  • St. Louis Park
  • Wayzata

Frequently asked questions

How does organics recycling work?

Organics recycling is easy:

  1. Collect food scraps and food-soiled paper products. Use an ice cream bucket or kitchen scrap bucket to collect scraps in your kitchen, or a paper milk, juice or ice cream carton. Line your collection containers with a paper bag or compostable bag to help keep it clean. Compostable bags and kitchen scrap buckets are available at local retailers.
  2. Empty your organic waste into the organics cart provided by your waste hauler.
  3. Set out your organics cart on the curb on your trash collection day.

Watch the How to Collect Organics at Home video for more information.

Materials that are accepted

Collect the following for organics recycling:

Food scraps

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat, fish and bones
  • Bread, pasta and baked goods
  • Egg shells
  • Dairy products
  • Coffee grounds

Food-soiled paper products

  • Paper towels and napkins
  • Paper plates and cups
  • Pizza boxes
  • Egg cartons
  • Boxes from frozen and refrigerated foods
  • Waxed paper and paper containers
  • Coffee filters and tea bags

Other compostable items

  • Full vacuum cleaner bags
  • Dryer lint
  • Tissues and cotton balls
  • Floral trimmings and house plants

Remember to continue to recycle your cartons, glass, metal, paper and plastic.

Prevent odors

Organics will smell the same as your household trash. Remember, it is the same waste you have now, just separated into containers. To minimize odors, remember to include food-soiled paper products or line your container with a paper bag to absorb liquid from food waste, line your container with a compostable plastic bag to contain liquid, empty your container frequently and rinse it out occasionally.

Organics recycling beats the garbage disposal

Recycling organic waste into compost is more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than using a garbage disposal. Waste water treatment plants require energy and resources to process out solids, including food waste. Food waste can also overload your septic system and cause problems.

Organics recycling is cost-effective

Depending on how you set up your service, you could actually save money, or it may add just a few more dollars to your bill.

Help make organics recycling more widely available

Hennepin County continues to work with cities and haulers to expand residential curbside collection of organics. If you would like to have an organics recycling program in your city, let your hauler and elected officials know that you are interested in this service. Contact your city council members, mayor, and hauling company. Get interested neighbors to do the same.

Backyard composting

Backyard composting is an easy way to turn much of the waste from your yard and kitchen into a rich organic material that you can use to improve your soil.

The benefits of composting

  • Reduces the amount of garbage your household produces
  • Reduces the amount of water and fertilizer required for your yard and garden by suppressing weeds and holding moisture in the soil
  • Improves soil quality and supplies essential nutrients for plant growth

How to compost

Step 1. Place your bin in a convenient location for easy access. A shady or sunny spot will work. You can purchase a bin or build your own. 

Step 2. Add food and yard waste, including:

  • Vegetable and fruit scraps
  • Coffee ground and filters
  • Tea leaves and tea bags
  • Egg shells
  • Nut shells
  • Plant trimmings
  • Grass and leaves

As a general rule, add three parts of dry ingredients - leaves or dry grass - to one part of wet food waste. Do not add fats or animal products, including butter, cheese or dairy products, meat or bones, gravies or sauces, pet wastes. 

Step 3. Mix up the pile with a shovel or pitchfork at least once a month.

Backyard composting tips

  • Keep your compost pile at the right moisture level. If your compost pile has a bad odor, it lacks air circulation or it may be too wet. Try turning the pile and/or adding dry material to the pile. 
  • If your compost pile is not heating up, it may need more nitrogen or "green" material. Add grass clippings or a nitrogen fertilizer to the pile.
  • Bury kitchen scraps at least 8 inches deep in the compost pile to discourage critters.
  • You can keep adding to your compost pile as it is composting. However, you may want to start a second pile if you have enough materials.
  • Add a layer of straw or hay to the top of your compost pile in the winter to keep it warm.
  • The best pile is made up of a variety of materials.
  • The smaller the bits of compost material, the faster the pile will decompose.

If you don't want to maintain a backyard bin, remember that you can still collect organics and take them to the Brooklyn Park drop-off facility.

Resources

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