Twin Cities metro solid waste policy plan

The MPCA prepares the Metropolitan Solid Waste Management Policy Plan every six years with input from state agencies, county staff, and representatives of the waste industry, environmental groups, businesses, and citizens. The plan establishes a framework for managing waste in the seven-county metro area over a 20-year period.

The plan describes broad regional objectives and potential strategies for solid waste management that counties can select from to meet the region’s needs. It also sets goals for source reduction, recycling, and organics recovery; utilizing existing resource recovery facility capacity; and minimizing land disposal.

The plan:

  • Sets aggressive objectives for waste reduction, recycling, and organics recovery: 75% combined recycling and organics recovery (consistent with state law) and 5% reduction of waste by 2030
  • Emphasizes preventing wasted food and recovering food and other organics to help achieve the 75% goal
  • Describes sustainable materials management, an approach focused on the best use of materials and product longevity
  • Promotes regional coordination to meet goals, gain efficiencies, and promote consistency
  • Provides specific, actionable strategies that counties can choose from to achieve plan goals

Greater Minnesota solid waste management plans

Counties and solid waste management districts outside the seven-county metro area are required to prepare and implement detailed solid waste management plans every 10 years. The plans must be approved by the MPCA. The agency also assists local government to implement the plans, develop projects for waste prevention and resource conservation, and measure their impact.

Each jurisdiction's plan must describe:

  • Volume and composition of waste generated and collected from residents, businesses, and other sectors
  • Largest sources of waste (i.e., institutions, facilities, etc)
  • Waste reduction goals for the next ten years
  • Solid waste education offered
  • Recycling and organics programs, including collection, processing, and marketing
  • Management of household hazardous waste, demolition debris, and problem waste, such as electronics, appliances, and tires
  • Resource recovery facilities in use (waste-to-energy)
  • Landfills in use along with an evaluation of alternatives to landfilling
  • Solid waste ordinances and licensing requirements
  • Local and regional planning activities

The MPCA created a checklist to serve as a guide to local government units developing solid waste management plans:

Greater Minnesota certificate of need

Certificate of need is a process by which the MPCA offers landfills in a county the opportunity to expand their existing capacity. The MPCA commissioner issues a certificate of need for Greater Minnesota counties when they need additional disposal capacity. However, landfill disposal is the least desirable option for managing waste, so feasible and reasonable waste reduction, source separation, and resource recovery alternatives must be considered first.

The MPCA initiated a certificate of need process for Twin Cities metro-area landfills in 2020. Learn more: Metro landfill certificate of need

Resources