2020 recycling progress report
The 2020 recycling progress report (PDF) provides an update on implementation of Hennepin County’s Solid Waste Management Master Plan, progress toward waste diversion goals, and a summary of the 2020 results for the county’s waste management programs.
Amount of waste generated and recycling rate
About 1.24 million tons of solid waste, which includes recycling, organics, and trash, was generated in Hennepin County in 2020. That is a 1% decrease from 2019, or about 7,000 tons less. Of the total tons generated, 42% was managed as recycling and organics. The remaining 58% was managed as trash at a waste-to-energy facility or landfill.
The impact of COVID-19 and changes to waste reporting contributed to shifts in waste management data in 2020 compared to previous years. As offices, businesses, and schools shut down in spring 2020 and people spent more time at home, the amount of waste generated shifted from the commercial sector to residential.
Results and strategies
The report highlights the county’s results and strategies going forward in the following areas:
Continuing important services during a challenging time
Throughout the challenges and disruptions of 2020, the county continued to provide disposal services and conduct inspections, pivoted to virtual offerings, adjusted to meet the needs of the community, and made progress on many priority initiatives.
Connecting zero waste and climate action
Strategies to reduce waste and increase the sustainability of materials are important components to achieving the county’s goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The county’s Climate Action Plan includes strategies to prevent food waste, divert organic materials from the trash, reuse and recycle construction and demolition waste, understand the climate impacts of our purchases and mitigate the larges impacts, and advocate for state leadership on zero waste policies and producer responsibility.
Achieving more through collaboration
Through the Partnership on Waste and Energy (PWE), a Joint Powers Agreement between the Ramsey/Washington Recycling & Energy Board and Hennepin County, the county made progress on anaerobic digestion development, online training for hazardous waste generators, and a consumer education campaign on battery disposal. The county also provided statewide leadership on product stewardship.
Focusing on organics
Organic materials are the largest proportion of our trash — making up about 25% of the trash stream. Diverting organic materials, which include food, food-soiled paper, and compostable products, is the biggest opportunity to reduce our trash. This involves many different strategies, including food waste prevention, food rescue for hunger relief, food-to-animals, composting, and anaerobic digestion.
Making progress on implementing master plan strategies
Many of the county’s programs adapted to health and safety guidelines in order to continue to provide services and engage residents. The report highlights results in recycling organics, preventing waste, conducting education and outreach, serving residents at home, work, school, and on-the-go, promoting drop-offs for hazardous waste and additional recyclables, and recovering resources from the trash.