Anoka County recycling program expands

Anoka County wants to boost non-residential recycling in the county, specifically by the business community.

To that end the Anoka County Board’s Waste Management and Energy Committee has approved entering into purchase of service agreement with the Minnesota Waste Wise Foundation through Dec. 31 this year at a cost of $35,000.

The money will come from state dollars the county receives each year through the SCORE (Select Committee on Recycling and Environment) program.

“We need to do a better job encouraging businesses to recycle,” said County Commissioner Jim Kordiak, who chairs the waste management and energy committee.

That’s why the county is contracting with the Minnesota Waste Wise Foundation, which is an offshoot of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce to work with businesses in the county, according to Kordiak.

Under the agreement, the foundation’s scope of services include providing technical assistance, research, liaison services and active marketing and outreach services in the county.

The county will give the foundation with some business leads, but the foundation will be seeking out businesses in the county to work with, according to Brad Field, county director of integrated waste management.

Commercial waste management spelled out in the agreement includes waste reduction, recycling, food waste and organics recovery, resource recovery and cost effective waste management services.

The county wants the foundation to target not only businesses but also nonprofit organizations and business associations in Anoka County.

The county would like to see less waste from businesses ending up in the landfill, Fields said.

But the county also wants to get a greater understanding of barriers and opportunities for landfill abatement and also meet the goals in its solid waste master plan, he said.

Those goals include new state mandates that require 60 percent of counties’ solid waste to be recycled by 2030, according to Fields.

The latest recycling statistics from Anoka County, for 2012, shows 42 percent of solid waste being recycled, Fields said.

“We have a ways to go,” he said.

The state has also set targets for counties to reach the 60 percent by 2030, Fields said.

They are 45-48 percent by 2015, 47-51 percent by 2020 and 49-54 percent by 2025, he said.

Ultimately, if the 60 percent target has not been met, the state could reduce recycling funding to counties, according to Fields.

But to begin with he expects the state to work with counties to try and help them achieve those goals, Fields said.

A couple of cities – Coon Rapids and Lino Lakes – have done some work to encourage businesses in their communities to recycle, Kordiak said.

Indeed, in Lino Lakes, the city’s environmental board sent letters to all businesses in the city urging them to recycling rather than landfill their solid waste, according to Fields.

“We want to work with businesses in the county to assist them in recycling more than they do now,” Fields said.

By the end of the contract period, the county hopes to see a reduction in the amount of commercial waste generated and increased recycling by commercial waste generators.

In addition, the county is targeting increased food waste/organics recovery by businesses like restaurants and increased awareness and knowledge by commercial solid waste generators of options to deliver their waste to resource recovery processing facilities.

Currently, the Anoka County website has a Rethink Recycling business recycling guide on its Integrated Waste Management page to help county businesses locate recycling and disposal options.

Information in the guide includes:

• recycling and reuse options for materials used by businesses,

• donation opportunities,

• disposal options for materials that cannot be reused or recycled, and

• disposal information and options for problem materials and hazardous waste.

According to the foundation website, it promotes sustainable business practices to help businesses save money through waste reduction, resource conservation and energy efficiency. With its programs and consulting services, the foundation provides leadership to assist businesses with environmental sustainability programs and initiatives.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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