Recycling in Minnesota: The SCORE Report

The Select Committee on Recycling and the Environment (SCORE) Report is an annual examination of Minnesota waste management programs and data, as well as providing detailed data by county. The MPCA uses SCORE information to detail trends in waste generation, management, and disposal. SCORE data trends are used to help develop sound policy and plans to manage waste in a manner that protects the environment and human health.

2019 SCORE data

Minnesota posted a combined recycling rate of 43.5% in 2019 which is a decrease of 3.6% from 2018 numbers. Challenges in reporting and depressed recycling markets likely contributed to the decrease in the recycling rate.

Overview

  • Municipal solid waste (MSW) tonnage decreased by 0.8%.
  • The amount of Mixed Municipal Solid Waste (MMSW) sent to landfills and waste-to-energy facilities is up to 56.5% in 2019 compared to 55.3% in 2018.

Environmental impacts

Quantifying the impact to the environment based on the management of materials, in addition to their tonnage, tells a more complete story of MSW in Minnesota. The MPCA used the Waste Reduction Model (U.S. EPA) to calculate greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) related to waste management by material for the first time down to a county-level in 2019.

  • Minnesota saved roughly 4.1 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent using current waste management practices. This equates to removing annual emissions from 891,000 passenger vehicles.
  • In general, reducing, reusing, or recycling material saves more GHGe while landfilling results in higher GHGe. By continuing our efforts in waste reduction and reuse, we will continue to reduce our environmental impacts attributed to waste management.

Waste-to-energy

  • 2019 saw a 17.8% decrease from 2018 for WTE statewide.
  • October 2019 marked the first month that the Red Wing Processing Facility operated at capacity, and then again in December 2019.
  • The first quarter of 2020 marked the first time where Restriction on Disposal requirements were met for the entire quarter.
  • The Great River Energy WTE Facility shut down in January 2019. This significantly decreased WTE capacity by up to 420,000 tons/year.