Organics recycling for residents

About one-third of our trash is organic materials, including food, food-soiled paper, and certified compostable products, that could be composted. Organics recycling is the best opportunity to reduce our trash and put it to better use. 

Materials accepted for organics recycling

See the organics recycling guide (PDF) for a list of materials accepted in organics recycling programs throughout Hennepin County. 

Check with your city recycling coordinator or waste hauler for the most accurate information organics recycling service availability in your city, program setup, and materials accepted.

Helpful resources

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Benefits of organics recycling

The organics collected in curbside or drop-off programs are taken to a local commercial compost facility and recycled into compost, a nutrient-rich material that is used in landscaping and road construction projects to improve our soil.

Participants in organics recycling programs say it’s a surprisingly easy way to make a difference. It provides a “feel good” benefit, helps the environment, and results in a visible reduction in trash.

Best opportunity to reduce our trash

Waste sort studies, like the one Hennepin County conducted in 2016, continue to show that organic materials are the largest proportion of our trash – making up about 25 percent of the trash stream.

Reduces greenhouse gas emissions

Organic materials decomposing in landfills generate methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Diverting organics to composting helps to reduce landfill methane emissions. 

Improves soil and protects water

When compost is added to soil, it reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides. It also increases the water retention of soils, which reduces runoff and erosion that can pollute our water and helps to conserve water.

Supports a local economy

Minnesota’s composting industry supports about 700 jobs and produces $148 million in gross economic activity per year. The composting industry supports four to eight times more jobs on a per ton basis than landfilling operations.

Helps achieve our goal of zero waste to landfills

Getting organic materials out of the trash means that facilities like the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC) that burn waste to generate energy have more capacity to help reduce the trash we send to landfills. In addition, sending organics materials to a composting facility is preferable to incineration for a number of reasons, including that organics recycling creates nutrient-rich compost and that burning wet organics is not energy efficient at waste-to-energy facilities.

 

Sign up for organics recycling service at home

The availability of organics recycling service depends on where you live.

Contact your city to ask about availability, or refer to the list below of organics recycling options.

If you live in a city where organics recycling is not offered, contact your city council members, mayor and hauling company to let them know you are interested in the service. And in the meantime, check to see if there are any drop-off options available that are convenient for you.

Service available to residents at no extra cost

In the following cities, if you have garbage and recycling service provided by the city, organics recycling is available to at no added cost, But you must sign up to participate.

Medicine Lake, Medina, Osseo, St. Bonifacius, Wayzata

Organics are collected in certified compostable blue bags provided by Randy’s and placed in your trash cart. The certified compostable bags are later separated from the trash bags and sent to a commercial composting facility. Sign up.

Minneapolis

Organics are collected in a separate green cart. Sign up.

St. Louis Park

Organics are co-collected with yard waste in a separate brown cart. Sign up.

Service available to all residents for an additional fee

Organics recycling is available to all residents in the following cities for an additional cost through the Randy’s Blue Bag organics recycling program. 

Organics are collected in certified compostable blue bags provided by Randy’s and placed in your trash cart. The certified compostable bags are later separated from the trash bags and sent to a commercial composting facility. Sign up.

  • Loretto
  • Maple Plain

Service available through specific haulers

Edina

Organics recycling is available to customers of Vierkant Disposal for an additional cost. Organics are co-collected with yard waste. 

Other cities

In the following cities, organics recycling is available to customers of Randy’s for an additional cost. Organics are collected in certified compostable blue bags provided by Randy’s and placed in your trash cart. The certified compostable bags are later separated from the trash bags and sent to a commercial composting facility.

  • Brooklyn Center
  • Brooklyn Park
  • Corcoran
  • Crystal
  • Dayton
  • Golden Valley
  • Greenfield
  • Greenwood
  • Hanover
  • Independence
  • Long Lake
  • Maple Grove
  • Minnetonka
  • Minnetrista
  • Mound
  • New Hope
  • Orono
  • Plymouth
  • Richfield
  • Rogers
  • Shorewood

Organics recycling drop-off locations

Organics recycling drop-offs can be a good option for residents that don’t have organics recycling service available yet. That includes those who live in cities where it isn’t offered and those who live in apartment buildings, condos and townhomes that don’t have access to their city’s residential service. The following drop-off options are available.

Hennepin County drop-off facilities in Brooklyn Park and Bloomington

Organics are accepted for free Tuesday through Saturday during normal facility hours. Limit of five bags per person per day. Organics must be brought in BPI-certified compostable plastic bags. Learn more.

Bloomington

There are two organics recycling drop-off sites available to Bloomington residents.

The sites are located at:

  • Valley View Park, 201 E 90th St
  • West Bush Lake Park, 95th St and W Bush Lake Rd

Both sites are free and open Tuesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Learn more.

Hopkins

Starting May 5, Hopkins residential garbage customers may bring their household organics to the Hopkins Brush and Yard Waste drop-off site for recycling. 

The drop off site is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 2 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Learn more.

Minneapolis

There are nine drop-off locations throughout Minneapolis for city residents, including at parks, the city’s South Transfer Station, and the Wedge Community Co-op locations. Learn more and sign up.

St. Louis Park

Drop-off sites are available for residents who live in apartment buildings and townhomes. Learn more and sign up.

 

Setting up organics recycling at home

You’re ready to start organics recycling at home – great!

Some steps you may need to take to get started include making space for your cart, figuring out your setup room-by-room, and getting the supplies you need.

See our tips below, or check out the setting up organics recycling at home presentation (PDF) for information and ideas. Minneapolis’ setting up organics recycling at home guide (PDF) has some additional good ideas, although not all of this information will apply to all programs.

Making space for your cart

If you’re participating in a program where you get a separate cart for organics recycling (like in Minneapolis and St. Louis Park), determine where you will put your cart.
To make space (and potentially save some money), you may be able to downsize to a smaller garbage cart.

Setting up room-by-room

Kitchen

Start here as this is where most organics recycling is generated. 

You will generally need a collection container and compostable bags. Choose a container and location that will work for you.

If you have issues with pests or smells or want your compostable bags to last longer, consider keeping a container in the fridge or freezer for “wet” organics like fruits, vegetables and meat scraps.

Expand to other rooms

You can also collect organics in the bathroom, bedrooms and office.

Remember items like tissues, paper towels, cotton balls, hair and pet fur are accepted for organics recycling.

Getting the supplies you need

Collection containers

There are many options for collection containers. You can purchase simple to fancy countertop collection containers, convert an existing bin to an organics recycling bin, reuse a coffee can or ice cream pail, or use something as simple as a bowl on your kitchen counter. Choose something that works for you in your space.

Compostable bags

Most program require that you bag your organics before placing it in your cart. 

Some program require that you use BPI-certified compostable plastic bags. These may be provided by your city or hauler, or they can be purchased at most retail or grocery stores or ordered online. 
If you are purchasing your own, you may want to try different brands as they will all perform differently.

Some programs also allow you to use paper bags for your organics – paper bags are compostable!

Check to see what items need to be bagged for your program. Some programs allow you to put larger items like pizza boxes from delivery and paper egg cartons into your cart without being bagged.

Labels for your bins

Well-labeled bins help everyone in your household know what goes where. Order free labels for your organics, recycling and trash bin and other recycling education materials.

Certified compostable products

There can be a lot of confusion regarding compostability of paper and plastic plates, cups, bowls, containers and utensils.

Certified compostable products, including paper and plastic plates, bowls, cups, containers, and utensils, are accepted for organics recycling. Certified compostable products must have the BPI or Cedar Grove logo on them or the term “compostable” to be accepted.

Paper items that have a shiny or smooth surface, such as coffee cups, to-go containers, and ice cream tubs, likely have a plastic lining and are not accepted in the organics program unless they are identified as a certified compostable paper item.

If an item doesn’t have one of these logos and you’re unsure whether or not it’s compostable, it’s best to put that item in the trash. This will help ensure the organics recycling is clean and free of contamination.

Backyard composting

Backyard composting is a great way to turn waste from your yard and kitchen into a nutrient-rich compost that you can use to improve your soil right at home.

Backyard composting differs from organics recycling in the list of materials accepted. 

You can compost yard waste like leaves and grass clippings as well as fruit and vegetables scraps and coffee grounds at home. 

You cannot put meat and dairy products into a backyard compost bin because the pile won’t reach as high of temperatures as a commercial composting facility.

Learn more about backyard composting and purchasing a compost bin.

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