On February 12, Commissioner Bishop, Governor Walz, and several elected officials toured the Ramsey/Washington Recycling & Energy Center in Newport. The press event was designed to highlight one of ten projects in the MPCA's Capital Assistance Program (CAP) bonding proposal for 2020.
CAP offers grants to local governments to help them increase reuse, recycling, composting, and resource recovery, reducing the amount of waste going to landfills. The Ramsey/Washington project would expand the facility and improve its operations, adding organic waste collection for residents in Ramsey and Washington counties and increasing the amount of recyclables recovered from the waste stream.
By providing residents with durable compostable bags and implementing new robotics technology in the facility, the Recycling & Energy Center could "co-collect" trash and organic waste. Residents would put their organic waste in the bags and toss it in their regular trash bin — no separate carts or trucks for collection. Without additional trucks, the 800,000+ residents of Ramsey and Washington counties will get a new service without increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Learning about the environmental benefits of the new technology, Governor Walz said "it's great to see what the future looks like."
New equipment at the facility will enable the removal of more recyclable materials from the trash, including plastic, metal, and cardboard. Recycling more waste will reduce the waste being incinerated and the greenhouse gas emissions that burning produces. Depending on the amount or recyclables recovered, the facility could eliminate up to 10.3 metric tons of CO2 equivalent annually, an impact similar to taking 2,200 passenger vehicles off the road.
CAP projects like this one have enormous potential to reduce waste, generate energy, and create jobs across the state.