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Food Scraps Recycling

Background

Ramsey County faces complex challenges as it works toward its continued commitment to reducing reliance on landfills, preventing pollution, equity, and engaging stakeholders. Curbside recycling is a reliable municipal service. However, recyclable items, such as food waste, continue to be discarded in the trash. Food scraps recycling is a new technology with challenges such as contamination and perceptions of it being a messy process to sort and store the material for collection.

The County is a leader in managing food resources and food scraps recovery through a comprehensive approach, including all forms of food waste reduction (e.g., food to people) and recycling. They use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s food recovery hierarchy for guidance in making policy decisions about managing organic waste and continue to enhance recycling, in part through improved source separation of traditional recyclables and development of innovative food scraps recovery systems. The County collaborates very closely with Washington County and the Recycling & Energy Board on a variety of programs and new service initiatives.

Approach

Since 2011, Foth has served Ramsey County and its municipalities on recycling and solid waste issues through the County’s technical assistance program. Foth assists the County and its municipalities to meet their objectives through planning, evaluation, and outreach using a data-driven, science-based approach. We provide in-depth research on tough topics such as best practices in food scraps collection and recovery, including improving drop-off sites and curbside systems. Technical assistance to support municipalities with a new food waste reduction and recycling program is a critical success strategy. We produce tools aimed at both decision makers such as elected officials, and program operating staff. Our consulting services to the County and their public entities is focused on their individual needs drawing from a wide array of expert solid waste engineers, scientists and planners.

Results

Foth produced a series of studies and guidance documents for Ramsey County and the City of Saint Paul that outline clear, concise options for increasing collection of clean food scraps recovery. We have worked with multiple local government agencies and private practitioners to provide targeted organics management recommendations based on best management approaches.  Our entire team provides local, responsive service with national expertise in the practical issues faced by local communities. For example, we included food scraps recovery contract provisions in seven city solid waste/recycling contracts over the recent years to assure that organics management remains current and open to future system changes and opportunities.

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