Environmental programs and initiatives

Hennepin County delivers a variety of programs to protect and preserve the environment.

The county offers programs to reduce and responsibly manage waste, protect land and water, take action on climate change, and promote environmental stewardship. The county is also leading the way in developing innovative programs to respond to the most urgent environmental issues.

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Reduce and responsibly manage waste

Waste reduction and recycling programs

The county offers waste reduction and recycling programs, including providing technical and financial assistance for recycling and organics composting to cities, businesses, apartments and schools.

Learn more about recycling and reducing waste for residents and recycling and reducing waste for businesses, organizations, property owners, and schools.

Organics recycling requirements and food waste reduction

The county has requirements that businesses that generate large quantities of food waste start food waste recycling by 2020 and cities offer organics recycling service to residents by 2022.The county is also exploring options to expand local capacity to manage organics. Learn more about the requirements for businesses and cities.

The county is also encouraging food waste prevention by promoting the Save the Food campaign, rescuing food from farmers markets to feed people in need, and helping businesses and schools understand options for food rescue and donation.

Striving for zero waste

The county is supporting residents in taking action to prevent waste through the Zero Waste Challenge, promote repair with Fix-It Clinics, support local reuse retailers with Choose to Reuse, and provide technical assistance and funding for businesses and schools to reduce waste.

Hazardous waste disposal

The county provides disposal of hazardous waste for residents at drop-off facilities and collection events.

Find disposal information for common household items on the Green Disposal Guide.

The county also licenses and inspects businesses that generate hazardous waste to ensure proper disposal and protect the environment and health.

Use waste to produce energy

At the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC), garbage is burned to generate energy. HERC uses the latest technologies to reduce environmental and taxpayer costs and is part of the county's integrated waste management system.

Protect land and water and conserve natural resources

Provide data on natural resources

The natural resources interactive map includes detailed natural resources information that can be used to make everyday land use decisions and help with larger planning efforts.

Protect and restore natural areas

The county enhances natural areas and improves water quality by taking an increasingly strategic approach to planning, prioritizing, and partnering on natural resources projects.

A variety of funding and expert assistance are available for natural resources projects, including natural resources good steward and opportunity grants, aquatic invasive species prevention grants, healthy tree canopy grants, and funding and loans for rural and agricultural landowners.

Through the establishment of conservation easements, the county works with landowners to protect and restore habitat.

Enhance the tree canopy and promote sustainable landscaping

Hennepin County foresters conduct tree plantings, grow trees in a gravel-bed nursery, and offer grants to cities, affordable housing properties, schools and nonprofit organizations to combat threats from invasive species and disease, increase the diversity and resiliency of the tree canopy, and educate the public. Learn about the programs and resources to help protect and enhance the tree canopy.

The county also promotes the use of sustainable landscaping to protect pollinators and improve water quality.

Address invasive species

The county disperses state funding through grants and partnerships to innovative programs that prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. The county has also developed resources that help residents and partners understand the threat that emerald ash borer poses to our tree canopy and option for managing ash trees.

Clean up contaminated sites

Hennepin County supports the redevelopment of contaminated properties known as brownfields with several grant and loan programs.

Promote stewardship of natural resources

Provide resources and encourage residents in urban, suburban, and rural parts of the county to take actions that protect land and water.

Take climate action

Developing the county's climate action plan

Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges the county faces because of its significant environmental, societal, and economic impacts on both a global and local level.

More and more, Hennepin County residents are starting to notice the effects of climate change – from warming winter temperatures, more extreme precipitation events, and changes in our unique and cherished ecosystems.

The county leads in many areas that offer the most effective ways to respond to climate change, such as protecting vulnerable people, investing in transit, conserving energy use in our buildings, and protecting our tree canopy.

In 2020, Hennepin County will develop a Climate Action Plan with initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strategies to adapt to our change climate.

Learn more about the development of the county's climate action plan.

Promoting environmental stewardship

The county engages the public in how we design and deliver our programs and empowers resident to take action to protect the environment.

Environmental education

Organizations in the county have access to free environmental education resources, including activity guides, education kits, educational flyers and pamphlets, articles, posts and images, and tours and field trip funding.

The county also provides funding and support to organizations to actively educate, engage and motivate residents to become environmental stewards and make positive behavior changes.

Volunteer opportunities

A variety of environmental volunteer opportunities are available.

Implement recycling programs and encourage waste reduction by becoming a Master Recycler/Composter. Monitor wetland health with the Wetland Health Evaluation Program. Help take care of trees and learn about tree care as a Tree Steward. Help people fix their household items and keep goods out of the garbage by volunteering at Fix-It Clinics.

Green Notes newsletter

Hennepin Green Notes is a monthly e-newsletter highlighting environmental programs, news and events from Hennepin County.

Sign up to receive Green Notes.

Latest edition

September 2020

In this edition

  • Developing the county’s climate action plan
  • Grants awarded for environmental education, tree planting, and food rescue
  • Reuse retailers invited to join free marketing program
  • Adopt-A-Drain: A contact-less way to volunteer this fall
  • Turn yard waste into a resource
  • Reuse building materials in your next home construction project with deconstruction
  • In the News
    • Recovering valuable metal from the ash created at the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center
    • Tangletown Neighborhood Association launches textile waste education project
  • Events: Litter Be Gone cleanup in Minneapolis
  • Green Tip: Keep an eye out for autumn changes in nature

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