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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.

Read the full law here: 2016 Recycling Law Statute

Who is Impacted?

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 are exempt.

What Must be Recycled?

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  (e.g one recycling bin for paper, glass bottles, plastic), you are in compliance.

Waste streams for businesses are unique. When deciding which materials to recycle, consider which materials you produce the most of and how to engage your employees and customers. Your hauler or our recycling experts can help you determine what containers you need and how often waste and recycling should be picked up. Adjusting your waste collection may save your business money on waste hauling fees and taxes. 

Why Does It Matter?

There are tangible benefits to recycling.

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.

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.

Recycling benefits the economy: Recycling 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. Additionally, 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 protects our environment: By reducing energy use, recycling decreases greenhouse gas emissions and reduces Minnesota’s carbon footprint. Recycling has indirect benefits to climate change as well. 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 our air each year.

Recycling and buying recycled products also 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. Besides reducing pollution, making products out of recycled materials conserves natural resources, such as water and timber.

Trash and Recycling Statistics

  • The United States is the number one trash producing country in the world – our 5% world population generates 40% 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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