Organics recycling for businesses and organizations

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

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

  • Organics recycling for composting: food waste, unlined paper and certified compostable foodservice ware is recycled into compost, a valuable soil amendment
  • Food to people: edible food is donated to organizations that help people in need
  • Food to animals: food scraps are processed into feed for livestock

Plan your new program with our guide on how to start organics recycling at work (DOCX).

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Food waste recycling requirements for businesses

Summary of requirements for businesses

Certain businesses (see the list of covered sectors below) that generate one ton of trash per week or contract for eight cubic yards or more of trash per week must have food waste recycling in place

To be compliant with the requirements, businesses must:

  • Have food waste recycling service in place
  • Provide food waste collection containers back-of-house and properly label them
  • Separate food waste from trash in back-of-house operations. Organics recycling is not required in front-of-house operations
  • Provide education and train employees annually

The county also added new requirements for businesses to improve conventional recycling that add service level standards and labeling requirements.

The county will have the authority to enforce these requirements, including the ability to issue warnings or citations for noncompliance. The county provides resources to assist businesses in meeting these requirements.

Covered sectors

Requirement applies to businesses (including commercial businesses, nonprofits and public entities) in the following sectors:

  • Restaurants
  • Grocery stores
  • Food wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers
  • Hotels
  • Hospitals
  • Sports venues
  • Event centers
  • Caterers
  • Nursing and residential care facilities
  • Office buildings with dining services
  • Farmers markets
  • Food shelves and food banks
  • Colleges and universities with dining services
  • Shopping centers
  • Airports
  • Golf clubs and country clubs
  • Rental kitchens or shared use commercial kitchens

The county board may annually designate by resolution additional business classifications.

Resources

Request forms

Request a variance by submitting a variance request form (DOCX). A site visit may be required by Hennepin County staff to complete the review of your request. 

To apply for approval of a food waste recycling management method not included in Ordinance 13, complete the additional beneficial use application form (DOCX). 

Food to people

Donate unserved, prepared food to hunger-relief agencies in our community.

How to get started

Second Harvest Heartland offers MealConnect, an innovative online platform that gives caterers, special event centers, restaurants, corporate cafeterias and other commercial food preparers a convenient, free and safe way to donate food.

Donations are either collected directly by the receiving organization or delivered by a trained volunteer. Learn more from Second Harvest and check out the MealConnect platform.

Why donate?

Donating food 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.

The federal tax code allows a deduction for donated food. Contact your tax professional to determine its application to your business.

Food donors are protected by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Act. Organizations that donate food in good faith to a nonprofit are not subject to liability on the condition of the food.

Food to animals

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.

Accepted items at food-to-animals organics recycling programs

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

Food-to-livestock

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

Second Harvest Farms (North)

  • Isanti, MN
  • 763-434-9044

No Rest Ranch

  • Cambridge, MN
  • 763-689-4615

Information about materials

Accepted

  • Unpackaged produce
  • Meat or meat fat trimmings
  • Prep food trimmings, food scraps, cooled grease or cooking oil
  • Unpackaged dairy products (meat, cheese, eggs, eggshells, etc.)
  • Unpackaged spoiled or dated food
  • Fish or fish by-products (shells, peels)
  • Unpackaged frozen foods

Not accepted

  • Non-edible products, such as coffee grounds, plastic, paper, and cardboard

Plan your new program with our guide to starting organics recycling at work (DOCX).

Share information with your employees using this article on food-to-animals (DOCX)

Food-to-animal feed manufacturing

ReConserve Inc.

ReConserve 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.

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

Contact Rick Cook at 651-438-7618 or by email at rcook@reconserve.com.

Organics recycling for composting

In an organics composting program, all food scraps, unlined paper, and certified compostable products 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

Acceptable materials are all food products (fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy), unlined food-soiled paper (napkins, paper towels and egg cartons), other compostable items like coffee grounds and toothpicks, and certified compostable foodware (paper and plastic cups, bowls, utensils). These materials are often collected in a certified compostable bag.

Due to concerns about levels of contamination - or materials that don't belong in the organics recycling - that compost facilities receive, possible changes are being considered to organics recycling programs. Learn more in the reducing contamination section below.

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.

Find a local vendor of compostable products (PDF).

Certification for compostable plastics

Look for the 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 www.bpiworld.org.

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!

Commercial organics for composting haulers

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

Aspen Waste Systems

  • Tom Heuer
    612-884-8000

Dick's Sanitation

LePage & Sons

  • 763-757-7100

Randy's Environmental Services

  • Dave Hepfl
    763-972-4123

Republic Services

Sanimax – Organics

  • Andy Barnaal
    651-451-6858

Waste Management

Organics composting facilities

Reducing contamination in organics recycling for composting

Reducing contamination is necessary for the sustainability of organics recycling programs

Effective September 8, 2020, Hennepin County will begin enforcing stricter contamination standards for organics recycling delivered to the county’s Brooklyn Park Transfer Station. Most organics recycling from Hennepin County is delivered to this facility before being sent to a compost site.

In order for organics recycling programs to be sustainable, composters must receive organics with very low levels of noncompostable materials, or contamination. This means that it’s more important than ever to make sure you are putting the right things into your organics recycling and keeping out items that can’t be composted.

Review this factsheet (PDF) to learn more about why this change is necessary, acceptable materials, situations where contamination issues commonly arise, and solutions to address contamination issues.

Grants, signs and assistance

Hennepin County has free assistance, signage and grant 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. Learn about business recycling grants.

Request assistance

Our committed staff is ready to help you start or improve recycling at your business or organization. Free services include on-site assessments to determine your best options and necessary start-up steps and evaluation of potential costs and savings.

Request assistance by submitting a Business recycling request form.

Organics and recycling signs

Order free recycling, organics recycling and trash signs. A variety of signs are available for spaces such as offices, cafeterias, commercial kitchens, public spaces and more. 

Schools

Get grants, container signage and free assistance for both private and public schools. Learn more about school recycling help.

Apartment, condo and townhouse recycling

Resources for property owners, including container signage and educational information for your residents. Learn about apartment recycling help.

Education and training resources

Spread the word! Use the following resources to promote your new organics recycling program and train staff and tenants about how to sort waste.

Training materials

E-Training modules

  • Food-to-animals (available in both English and Spanish)
  • Organics recycling for composting (available in both English and Spanish)

Videos

Organics recycling for composting training video

Food-to-animals training video

Article templates

Ordinance required documentation

Organics composting haulers

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

Aspen Waste Systems

Contact

Tom Heuer, 612-884-8000

Service offered

Commercial collection only

Dick's Sanitation

Contact

Jeff Weast, 612-849-8875, jweast@dickssanitation.com

Service offered

Commercial collection only

LePage & Sons

Contact

763-757-7100

Service offered

Commercial collection only

Randy's Environmental Services

Contact

Dave Hepfl, 763-972-4123

Service offered

Commercial and residential collection

Republic Services

Contact

Ray Donnelly, 952-946-5255, RDonnelly@republicservices.com

Service offered

Commercial collection only

Sanimax - Organics

Contact

Andy Barnaal, 651-451-6858

Service offered

Commercial collection only

Vierkant Disposal

Contact

Gary Vierkant, 612-922-2505

Service offered

Residential collection in Edina only

Waste Management

Contact

Service offered

Commercial and residential collection

Organics recycling at events

Containers are available for reservation for use at events. 

  • Events using Hennepin County’s event recycling containers can arrange to drop off more than five bags of organics at Hennepin County's Drop off Facilities in Brooklyn Park and South Hennepin (Bloomington).

Learn more about Hennepin County Drop off Facilities and what they accept here

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 www.bpiworld.org.

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
763-425-2236
ejensen@advance-sales.net
dangerhard@advance-sales.net
www.advance-sales.net
Greenware® cups, lids, containers
GenPak Harvest® Fiber and Paper bowls, plates, cups and containers
Natur-Tec® bags
Aset Supply and Paper
Bob Taubman/Jae Johnson
763-432-7263
btaubman@asetsupplyandpaper.com
JaeJohnson@asetsupplyandpaper.com
www.asetsupplyandpaper.com
Indaco Bag to Nature™ bags
BioTuf® bags
Ecotainer™ products
Eco-Products® products
Greenware® products
Cole
Maria McCarthy
612-250-1455
mmccarthy@colepapers.com
www.colepapers.com

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

Greenware® cold cups and lids, containers, and portion cups

Cortec Corporation
Jay Zhang
651-429-1100 ext. 1150
jzhang@cortecvci.com
www.cortecvci.com
Eco Works® and Eco Film® bags
LitinEco
Simon Hefty
612-607-5704 / 651-329-8935(c)
shefty@litin.com
www.litineco.com
Heritage Bio-Tuf® and BioBag® bags
World Centric and Eco-Products® cups, containers, plates, bowls, straws, utensils, straws
Northern Technologies
Lisa Ruedy
763-225-6611
lruedy@ntic.com
www.ntic.com
Natur-Tec® bags
Natur-Tec® cutlery
Plastic Bagmart
Mark Greenstein
763-544-3892
mark.pbmart@qwestoffice.net
www.pbmartmn.com

Eco-Safe bags
Organix Solutions
Emilee Metcalf
763-972-4120
emilee.metcalf@organixsolutions.com
www.organixsolutions.com
Blue Bag organics bags
Green Bag Organix bags
Renewables
Jason Whelan
763-221-9569
jason.whelan@renewablesbrand.com
www.renewablesbrand.com
Renewables™ cups, sporks
SelfEco
Danny Mishek
651-342-5195
danny@selfeco.com
www.selfeco.com
 SelfEco Caterware- drinkware, plates, bowls, food cups, cutlery 
Sysco MN
Dee Ann Bischel
763-785-7544
bischel.dee
www.sysco.com/home.html
Heritage Bio-Tuf® bags
Greenware® cups, lids, containers
Eco-Products® cups, plates, bowls, containers, straws
Up Coffee Roasters
Kevin Selig
612-728-7208
kevin@upcoffeeroasters.com
www.upcoffeeroasters.com

Green Wave clamshells
Vegware bowls
Ecotainer™ cups

Bare® by Solo® Eco-Forward® 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.

Organics composting haulers

Haulers that collect organics for composting in Hennepin County

Hauler Contact / phone number Commercial Residential Notes
Aspen Waste Systems Tom Heuer
612-884-8000
X    
Dick's Sanitation Jeff Weast
612-849-8875
jweast@dickssanitation.com
X    Commercial collection of organics recycling only
Organic Disposal Shelley Fahey
952-994-8987
952-443-2336
X X Only in southwest Hennepin - currently in Minnetonka and Eden Prairie
Randy's Environmental Services Dave Hepfl
763-972-4123
X X  
Republic Services Anja Standly
952-946-5245
astandly@republicservices.com
X    
Sanimax - Organics Andy Barnaal
651-451-6858
X    
Troje's Trash and Recycling D.J. Troje
651-900-1044
djtroje@trojetrash.com
X    
Vierkant Disposal Gary Vierkant
612-922-2505
  X Residential in Edina only
Vintage Waste Systems Emilee Metcalf
952-472-0401
X X  
Waste Management Dayna Karnick
952-882-2318
X X  

 

This list was last updated November 2015.




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