Saint Paul Compost to Zero Waste Plan
Saint Paul has a new plan to recycle and compost 75% of all our waste! That’s a 30% increase over what we recycle now, and would rival the highest recycling rates in the country.
Below is a summary. You can learn more about the plan in this brochure. (PDF, 466 KB)
This plan provides a community-based education program to help people in Saint Paul reduce the amount of food they currently (and inadvertently) waste in their homes and compost as much of their food scraps as possible right in their own backyards (or worm bins).
This plan increases services for Saint Paul residents, including adding more types of plastics to the recycling program. Adding more plastics is good, and making sure they really get recycled is better!
Plastic markets have finally expanded to accept and recycle some of the plastics that have long plagued us. (But not everything plastic is recyclable, and that will take pressuring the producers to redesign their products.)
Single-stream collection allows the addition of more plastics and composting without adding more trucks on the street. Some of our biggest challenges with single-stream have been addressed now that glass can be sorted. Minnesota now has two glass sorting companies to make sure all of our glass gets recycled.
Eureka is committed to working out any remaining challenges to make recycling more authentic and more accessible to more people—just like we did ten years ago when we simplified from seven sorts to two sorts.
Composting reduces garbage, and it saves us money on our trash bill. Composting at home is best: It means less to collect by truck. But not everything can be composted at home. So this plan provides collection for every resident in Saint Paul. Curbside households receive weekly curbside collection with recycling on their recycling day. Collecting composting in the same truck means no additional trucks, which saves money and means cleaner air and less wear and tear.
Eureka will also provide drop-off service for multifamily residents. Every household will receive the education and tools needed to ensure participation, including a curbside cart and, if requested, a kitchen kit.
One of the best parts of this plan is that neighbors help neighbors, and from what we hear, they really enjoy helping each other reduce waste. As a community, we already take one of the fastest and most effective grassroots actions to reduce our environmental footprint: recycling! We are all ready to do more.
The City of Saint Paul has a longstanding partnership with Eureka Recycling, a community-based nonprofit organization. Together, we are working to reach the city’s zero waste by 2020 goal, established by the citizens of Saint Paul. This partnership has many benefits for Saint Paul:
- Eureka has returned over $3.3 million to the city from the sales of recyclables in the last 10 years.
- Eureka is the only non-governmental recycler in the state of Minnesota that has union recycling drivers.
- As a nonprofit, all of Eureka’s proceeds are reinvested in the community.
What does it cost?
Good question. The plan that was presented to Saint Paul for inclusion in the 2013 budget cost $1.90 per household per month, significantly less than other programs in the U.S. But the great news is that after you reduce your garbage and your garbage service level, you can actually save money. Families can save an average of $2.50 per month. That’s a real savings of $7.20 per year.
What makes Eureka and this program so special…and so dirt cheap?
Eureka Recycling is a community-based nonprofit created in 2001 with the support of the City of Saint Paul. Eureka was created so that the city could stave off fee increases proposed by the subcontractor (Waste Management, Inc.) at that time.
For over a decade we have worked together to reach the city’s zero waste by 2020 goal, established by the citizens of Saint Paul. The plan has a few unique features that keep costs low:
- Changing to a simpler sorting system for recycling makes it possible to collect both recycling and composting on the same truck (in two separate compartments), so we don’t have to add trucks to collect more. This reduces emissions, saves wear and tear on the roads, and saves everyone money!
- By extending its contract with Eureka, the City of Saint Paul can add these materials now and save money! By using its ability to provide contract extensions, as it has done before, the City of Saint Paul taps Eureka’s capacity to finance the capital investments needed for this program (such as carts and equipment) so the city doesn’t have to. This saves the city millions of dollars. This plan would extend Eureka’s contract just 8 years, from 2016 to 2024.
What’s happening in other Minnesota communities?
There are many examples of communities that are collecting composting. The most exciting are from communities in Minnesota and climates like ours. Here are a few examples:
- Minneapolis: Community organization Linden Hills Power and Light is working with the City of Minneapolis on a curbside composting collection pilot in the Linden Hills and ECCO neighborhoods. This pilot has been expanded to parts of the Seward, Longfellow, and Howe neighborhoods.
- Hennepin County: Residents in several cities in Hennepin County can add composting collection to their trash collection service on a subscription basis.
- Duluth: Residents in Duluth can drop off food waste for composting at sites operated by Western Lake Superior Sanitary District.
- Hutchinson: Hutchinson has a citywide curbside composting collection program that has a 98% participation rate!
For a full list of what’s happening around the nation, see BioCycle’s December 2009 “U.S. Residential Food Waste Collection and Composting” article.