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2016 Recycling Law

As of January 1, 2016, the State of Minnesota requires most commercial buildings, and all professional and collegiate sports facilities, to recycle at least three materials, such as paper, glass, plastics or metals. Almost every business that has a dumpster to collect four or more cubic yards of waste is required to recycle in Minnesota. Read the full law here: 2016 Recycling Law Statute

Almost every business that has a dumpster to collect four or more cubic yards of waste is required to recycle in Minnesota. This includes:

  • All businesses located in the 7-County Twin Cities Metro Area (Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott or Washington counties)
  • Businesses classified in sectors 42 to 81 under the North American Industrial Classification System.

Exceptions include:

  • Businesses who lease space are not liable for setting up a recycling services (it is the responsibility of the building owner).
  • Agriculture, construction and manufacturing businesses.

Businesses must collect a minimum of three recyclable materials. Qualified materials include paper, glass, plastics, metals and organics (food scraps and other compostable materials, such as paper napkins and biodegradable packaging). If you have a single stream recycling program (one recycling bin for collecting paper, glass containers, plastic containers, metal containers, etc.), you are in compliance.

Waste streams for businesses are unique. When deciding which materials to recycle, consider which materials you produce the most of. Businesses can recycle items such as plastic pallet wrap, scrap plastic, scrap metal, and more. Our Recycling Experts can help you determine what your business can recycle, which containers you need and where to place them. 

Using standardized labels, signage, and colors helps staff and customers to recycle better. At BizRecycling, we offer free standard labels for recycling and trash bins to businesses in Ramsey and Washington Counties. If you need bins or equipment, we also offer BizRecycling Grants of up to $10,000 per business. Your Recycling Expert can help you apply for grant funding.

Our Recycling Experts can also help you decide how often your waste and recycling should be picked up. Right-sizing your waste collection may save your business money on waste hauling fees and taxes.

Recycling benefits the local economy: Recyclable material has tremendous economic value. The 2.3 million tons Minnesotans recycled last year was worth more than $690 million to our state’s economy. We lose money when we don’t recycle. About 1.2 million tons of recyclable material is thrown away each year. That material, if recycled, would be worth about $285 million to the state’s economy; instead, it costs more than $200 million to send the material to landfills.

Recycling also helps support local markets. Approximately 37,000 jobs in Minnesota are directly and indirectly supported by the recycling industry. These jobs pay an estimated $1.96 billion in wages and add nearly $8.5 billion to Minnesota’s economy.

Recycling saves energy: Manufacturing products from recycled materials uses far less energy than manufacturing the same product from virgin (new) materials. It takes 90% less energy to manufacture an aluminum can from recycled aluminum, about 50% less energy to manufacture a glass bottle from recycled glass, and about 75% less energy to manufacture paper from recycled paper. Recycling decreases our demand for fossil fuels and increases our energy independence.

Recycling protects our environment: Recycling and buying recycled products helps keep Minnesota’s lakes and rivers clean. Manufacturing products from recycled materials generates significantly less water pollution than manufacturing from virgin materials. Manufacturing recycled white office paper creates 74% less air pollutants and 35% less water pollutants than making it from virgin wood pulp.

Recycling also reduces energy use. For example, recycling an aluminum can requires 95% less energy and water, compared to producing a can from virgin materials.

Besides generating less pollution and reducing energy use, making products out of recycled materials conserves natural resources. Take paper recycling for instance. Each mature tree we don’t cut down can filter up to 60 pounds of pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the air each year. Recycling one ton of cardboard saves 46 gallons of oil. That’s great for the environment!

Recycled materials can be manufactured into a variety of products: Recycled items can be made into many new products, from recycled-content paper to building supplies that are used by many Minnesota companies.

  • The United States is the number one trash producing country in the world – it is estimated that our 5% world population generates 30% of the world’s waste.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 75% of American waste is recyclable.
  • Americans generate 43 billion pounds of food waste every year.
    • If all of that was recycled, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the same amount as removing two million cars from the road.
  • Almost half of all food in the U.S. goes to waste – all of which can be recycled.

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