Minneapolis mandates recycling for businesses

The Minnesota city joins a small list of cities that have decided to make recycling a requirement for companies with workplaces within city limits.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

I just read where my birthplace, the city of Minneapolis, is now mandating that businesses and workplaces create a formal recycling plan.

As far as I can tell, there are few other major cities including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Honolulu, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle that regulate recycling for businesses as well as residences. Other cities, such as New York, require businesses of certain types to have recycling programs and to source-separate materials to make it easier to recycle.

As far as Minneapolis goes, the city is taking a kinder, gentler approach at least at the start. The municipal government is offering up resources to help businesses come up with a plan. First-time offenders will get a warning, but the council wants to help businesses that aren't complying, not smack them with a fine right away. Under the law that went into effect on Sept. 1, 2011, business owners must:

  • Show a written recycling plan that is shared with employees (or in the case of building owners, with tenants); it needs to be posted
  • Arrange for a collection at least twice per month of materials including paper, cardboard, metal cans, plastic bottles, and glass bottles and jars
  • Set out containers
  • Create storage areas for items to be recycled

In a statement, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said:

"This ordinance gives recycling the normal, routine status it deserves. Now it's up to all of us to do our part to recycle."

As I was researching this issue, I read where Philadelphia, which was one of the earliest cities to mandate commercial recycling, has seen a relatively low rate of participation among businesses. The rate is something like 40 percent, and some businesses apparently are unaware of the law. The city plans to start enforcing the law more rigorously moving forward, but maybe it should do a publicity campaign first.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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