Developing ordinances for recycling and enclosures
Consider the topics below when developing a city ordinance.
State statute on who must recycle
State building code for recycling space
- State building code: §1303.1500
- Recycling space must be provided at new or significantly remodeled buildings that are 1,000 square feet or larger. Residential buildings with fewer than four units are exempt.
- Recycling space must be at least as convenient as trash space. Recycling space should be next to trash space whenever possible.
- Space designated for recycling must be large enough to contain the recyclables from the building. Each type of commercial building has a different minimum. See statute for specifics.
- Space for recycling must be identified on plans submitted for a building permit.
County waste master plan
Before beginning a recycling collection program, consult your county’s Solid Waste Master Plan for program priorities and best practices.
Local building and land use municipal codes
- Check for pre-existing requirements.
- Requirements for outdoor and indoor enclosures vary by city.
- If businesses need to expand enclosures to accommodate recycling and organics, cities may need to issue variances.
Hauler info and contract guidance
- Contact local haulers about the right size and type of closures to accommodate dumpsters and how this relates to business type and building square footage.
- Outdoor enclosures should be easily accessible for truck maneuverability and able to swing open in winter despite snow and ice.
- For layout assistance of outdoor enclosures, space planning guides are usually available online from haulers.
- Consider a resource management contract.
Space for new or increased organics collection
- Minnesota’s goal of recycling 75% of our waste by 2030 means organics collection will be crucial to accomplishing broader waste management goals.
- Think critically about how you can integrate organics collection into municipal ordinances.
- Provide space for future organics and increased recycling collection.
Existing ordinances in your city and other cities
- Minneapolis 174.435 – recycling at commercial buildings
- Chicago – Recycling in commercial/retail spaces
- Portland Administrative Rules for commercial solid waste, recycling, and compostables
- California’s Institute for Local Government compiled a comprehensive list of examples of local commercial recycling ordinances with 50+ model ordinances
Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a free and voluntary program to help cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals, based on best practices tailored to Minnesota cities.
Local success stories
- Anoka County businesses: event center, gas stations, grocery, manufacturing, multi-family residential, non-profits, religious organizations, restaurants, sports venue, and more
- Ramsey and Washington County businesses: searchable by industry and zip code; health care, housing, manufacturing, marina, non-profits, offices, religious organizations, restaurants, retail, schools, services
- Waste Wise: hotel, manufacturing, offices, printing, restaurants, sports venue, warehouse
The MPCA recognizes that not all commercial buildings required to recycle under the law were in compliance by the effective date, and remain out of compliance today. The MPCA's strategy for enforcing any law first emphasizes outreach and assistance. For the commercial recycling law, the agency is working with counties, cities, haulers, businesses, building owners, and trade groups to make sure businesses know about the rule and available resources.
To submit a complaint about a business that doesn’t recycle, email the business name, address including city, and details you feel are relevant to email@example.com.
The value of recycling
Based on a 2013 study of Minnesota's trash:
- 37,000 jobs in Minnesota are directly and indirectly supported by the recycling industry
- Nearly 75 percent of Minnesota’s trash is materials that could be recycled
- 1.2 million tons of recyclable materials are thrown away every year in Minnesota
- Those materials are worth $285 million
- It costs $200 million to throw it all away
- The lost value of the materials plus the cost to toss them in a landfill is nearly half a billion dollars
- City of St Louis Park study of recycling at multi-family residences
- Carver County recycling studies
- Dakota County report on commercial recycling
- Rethink Recycling studies and policy reports
- Rethink Recycling toolkits
- EPA’s Managing and Transforming Waste Streams tool provides guidance and real-world examples from communities across the US and Canada
- EPA’s social marketing training guide and toolkit was developed by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa