2016 should bring more places to recycle away from home

Contact: Pamela McCurdy, 651-757-2559

St. Paul, Minn. — Minnesotans should have access to more recycling opportunities in the New Year as commercial property owners in the Twin Cities metro area respond to an enhanced state recycling law.

By Jan. 1, 2016, owners of commercial property in the seven-county metro area will need to offer recycling along with garbage collection in their buildings. The new law applies to most commercial buildings that have service for four cubic yards (or more) of trash per week, and requires that at those properties a minimum of three material types be collected for recycling. Recyclables could include — but are not limited to — paper, plastic, glass, metal and organics (food scraps and compostable paper).

Depending on the type of business, there may also be opportunities to recycle other types of material, such as textiles. Many businesses also have clean plastic film from packaging and shipping that can be collected. Business owners are encouraged to look into the types of waste materials that their business generates, and how those materials could be recycled. There may be unexpected opportunities to recycle specialized materials.

Trashing recyclables can be expensive. Even for those who are not affected by the law, recycling provides an opportunity for businesses to save money. Recycling is not taxed; however, there is a 17 percent state tax on garbage and some counties have fees as well. Increasing recycling reduces trash and potentially saves money.

Recycling also adds to the economy, with 37,000 jobs created in Minnesota around the recycling industry. Many companies in Minnesota make products out of recycled material. And many customers like to know that business is supporting sustainable practices.

Implementing a successful recycling program can take work. Some businesses may need to make changes to accommodate recycling bins in the layout of their workplace, as well as on their loading docks. Helping staff learn how to properly participate in the program is essential to success, so a high-quality training program is important. Many cities and counties offer assistance to business owners, sometimes in the form of financial support, to set up new or improved collection systems. There are also several local resources for signage and education, including the Recycling Association of Minnesota and Rethink Recycling. All of these resources, and more, can be found on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s commercial recycling page.

Questions about the new law?  Contact Emily Barker at 651-757-2030.