Recycling woes

So I have lived in Minneapolis for a while now, and I cannot seem to get recycling right. I separate my recycling… I put it out in the bin… what’s the problem? Why don’t the recycling guys ever take my recycling away?

Time for some recycling research on the City’s website.

Turns out I have a couple of problems:
1) I don’t separate my recycling into paper bags. Why? Because I use reusable bags at the grocery store (trying to be eco-friendly and all) and don’t usually bring the paper bags home. And they apparently don’t like the ones Target forces me to bring home (plastic).
2) I have been doing this wrong for two years, and didn’t realize it because I never got a, hey stupid, here’s what you are doing wrong, yellow note… per the city’s website.

So in case you are like me and are being punished by separating your recycling incorrectly, here’s a reference:

How to Prepare Your Recycling
All recycling must be placed in separate paper bags, as follows:

Cans; food, beverage & aluminum foil
Rinse, clean and remove all caps or lids.

Glass Bottles & Jars
Rinse, clean and throwaway all caps or lids.

Plastic Bottles
Rinse, clean and throwaway all caps or lids.

Keep dry. Ads are accepted.
Bundle with string or twine.
20 lbs.

Magazines and Catalogs
Keep dry.
20 lbs.

Dry Food Boxboard, Office Paper & Mail
Flatten boxes, remove plastic, and keep dry.

Household Batteries
Tape ends of lithium contacts to prevent fire.
Place in clear plastic bag, on top or inside the bin.

Phone Books
Keep dry.
Place on top or inside the bin.

Corrugated Cardboard
Flatten each box. Remove and throw away plastic, tape and packing material.
Must be bundled with string or twine
20 lbs.

12 Comments so far

  1. Dave Dash (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 11:06 am

    The city’s approach to recycling has always bothered me. Affter some extensive research, the only recyling that seems to have a positive environmental impact (after calculating storage, processing, driving of trucks, etc) is metal.

    So we use the plastic bags for garbage, and the brown paper bags for cans and really try hard to avoid buying other things in the first place.

  2. The DTs (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 2:01 pm

    Honey, remind me to show you the recycling episode of Penn and Teller when we get home tonight. Mpls recycling requirements remind me of a joke gone awry…

  3. KvnMpls (unregistered) on November 1st, 2007 @ 7:56 am

    I’ll separate my trash when apartment/condo builders start building in space for a dozen different trash bins. My brand new place doesn’t even have enough space for one decent sized trash can, let alone a bunch of different ones for different kinds of garbage.

  4. christina (unregistered) on November 1st, 2007 @ 8:14 am

    but if you live in a condo or apartment you usually don’t have to separate your recycling because the city won’t pick it up for dwellings of more than three or four i think. the building has to get a private service and they allow you to just throw everything into two bags – newspapers and anything else.

  5. Erica M (unregistered) on November 1st, 2007 @ 8:15 am

    My apartment building (which I’m about to vacate) has a paper dumpster, and then bins for plastic/metal. I’ve got some piece of paper somewhere with the guidelines on it. My gf’s house came with one bin for all the recycling, but I haven’t looked through Eden Prairie’s recycling rules.

    That’s a lot of info to keep track of and I would imagine it puts a lot of people off from recycling. Dave makes an interesting point about the cost-benefit as well.

  6. Nelson (unregistered) on November 1st, 2007 @ 8:27 am

    I was a block leader in Minneapolis in the earliest years, when the city’s curbside household-recycling program was being piloted and then implement.

    A significant impediment to getting neighbors to start to participate in the program, and to keep participating in the program, was confusion about the rules, about what items were and weren’t acceptable. And those rule would often change.

    The feedback I’d always give to the city was this:
    The KISS principle — Keep It Simple, Stupid! Have fewer rules, and change those rules as infrequently as possible.

    In those days the city made the mistake of changing the instructions too much, in response to changes in what the salvage companies were and weren’t willing to accept. Which in turn related to what the current market price was for those recovered materials.

    Agreeing here with Christina and Erica, in apt. and condo buildings, which the city’s recycling service doesn’t handle, normally there’s just one bin for paper and another for containers. . . for simplicity, and to save space. At the places where that material gets hauled to, workers have do the sorting/separating. The city’s program incurs less of that sort of cost by requiring house-dwellers to do the sorting/separating at the curb.

  7. Nelson (unregistered) on November 1st, 2007 @ 8:37 am


    Giving credit where credit is due. . .

    A really smart thing the city did when beginning its city-wide recycling program was to allow participation to be mandatory, but to also offer a financial incentive for participation. (Actually, a financial dis-incentive for non-participating.)

    During the pilot phase, in the couple of test neighborhoods, participation was strictly optional, with no financial incentive or financial penalty involved.

    But when the program went city-wide, home-owners got the choice of either participating, with no change to their water/sewer bill, or non-participating, with an add-on charge on their water/sewer bill.

    That made a huge difference. There was some predictable grumbling about it, but the rate of participation in my neighborhood immediately jumped from about 60-70% to nearly 100%.

  8. KvnMpls (unregistered) on November 1st, 2007 @ 8:47 am

    Right on Nelson, KISS. See, I didn’t even know the city doesn’t handle apartments and condos, and I’ve lived in one or the other for nearly four years!

  9. anonymous (unregistered) on November 1st, 2007 @ 9:02 am

    I lived in a not-that-big apt. building in Mpls. in the early ’90s. The surrounding buildings were a triplex and townhouses. And it was a weird-shaped block, where it wasn’t that clear where our building’s property ended and the neighboring houses’ began.

    When I moved in, our building’s tenants were putting their recycling out by the curb, and the city would pick it up. And I learned that that had been going on for years. But then the city crews caught on that the stuff was from a building of more than three or four units, and notified the landlord and us that they wouldn’t accept our recycling anymore.

    The landlord was going to just have us throw evertything into the trash dumpster. But a couple of us tenants spoke up against that. And we checked with the city, and found that the landlord actually didn’t have a choice. He was required to provide recycling.

    The landlord claimed that most of the tenants would object, because the change might result in a rent increase of, say, about $5/month. We polled the tenants, and nobody spoke up to object about the potential rent increase to cover recycling service. We then got recycling, and the landlord did not raise the rent at all.

  10. Scott McGerik (unregistered) on November 1st, 2007 @ 11:15 am

    I disliked recycling when I lived in Minneapolis. I had difficulty remembering the separation rules. Plus, the every other week thing meant I always had over a months worth of junk to set out.

    Recycling in South St Paul, where I now live, is much easier. Metal cans and plastic and glass bottles can be mixed. Paper goes in another bag. I can remember that! Plus, pickup is every week on the same day that trash is picked up.

    We probably recycle more because the more frequent pickups and simpler rules. When I lived in Minneapolis, I would occasionally dump my recyclables into the trash because I had missed the pickup day too many times and now my garage was overflowing with trash.

  11. Jim H (unregistered) on November 1st, 2007 @ 2:12 pm

    The cardboard rules are annoying. Is there a place in town that I can just take all of my cardboard at once, without having to bundle it in 20 lb. chunks with string / twine?

  12. Erica M (unregistered) on November 1st, 2007 @ 3:01 pm

    Who weighs their cardboard out, or can accurately guesstimate 20 lbs?

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