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New organics recycling program has taken Richfield by storm

Post Date:12/21/2018 8:07 AM

Organics recycling taskforce 

With the creation of any new initiative, typically, it takes time for it to get off the ground. That is not the case for Richfield’s new organics recycling program. In less than a month, more than 500 residents have signed up for the program.

Richfield’s organics recycling program was created to provide residents with an opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint by recycling hundreds of items most households send to the landfill.

As of December 19, 527 Richfield residents have signed up for the organics recycling program.

Residents bring their organics waste, which can include everything from food scraps to pizza boxes, to one of the city’s two drop-off sites. The drop-off sites are located at Hope Church, 7132 Portland Avenue, and the Wood Lake Nature Center, 6710 Lake Shore Drive South. 

After signing up for the program, residents just need to visit a drop-off site and pick up their compostable bags. Once residents fill their compostable bag, they can be dropped off at either site.

“The Richfield community has truly embraced the organics recycling program,” explained Minnesota Green Corps member Rachel Lindholm, who is shepherding the new organics recycling program. “Initially, we had planned for the organics recycling dumpsters to be picked up once every two weeks, but with all the residents participating in the program, we are now having multiple pickups a week to make sure there is enough space for all the organic material being dropped off.”  

The success of the program predominantly lies with the outreach work done by the city’s Organics Recycling Taskforce, which includes city staff, city council members and members of the community.

The taskforce made a concerted effort to use social media, Channel 16 and events to encourage residents to sign up for the program. They have been seen at Richfield’s winter farmers market, Lakewinds Co-op, Penn Fest and at the Wood Lake Nature Center’s Trash on Your Back program.

“Residents who talk to us when we are out in the community or through email are so excited and passionate that organics recycling has finally come to Richfield,” explained Lindholm. “I get contacted daily by residents who are always looking for more items to recycle.”

Organics recycling is good for the environment. Approximately one-third of the garbage deposited at landfills could be recycled as organics. Also, the rapid decomposing that takes place during commercial organics recycling reduces the amount of methane released during decomposition.

“Residents are amazed at the amount of trash they can recycle through the new program,” said Wood Lake Nature Center Manager Karen Shragg. “The city’s new organics recycling program has shown residents that most of the waste they generate does not need to go to a landfill.” 

Most residents have also found organics recycling to be very easy.

“Based on the questions we get as taskforce members, some residents think organics recycling will drastically alter their day-to-day routine,” said taskforce member Jeremy Barthels. “However, when we explain that there is a multitude of setup options for people interested in organics recycling, skeptical residents tend to reassess their opinion on whether to try the program.”     

Organics recycling is a new frontier for most Richfield residents. In fact, if a resident has never composted before their knowledge about what can be recycled and what cannot be recycled is almost non-existent, outside of food scraps.

“Through our research, we learned that when a city launches an organics recycling program, it takes a while for residents to get the hang of what can and cannot be recycled,” expounded Lindholm. “However, that could not be farther from the truth when it comes to the Richfield organics recycling program. When we examine the different items deposited at the drop sites only a small percentage of it does not qualify as recyclable organic material.”

The city’s organics recycling program was made possible through a $15,000 Hennepin County Recycling Grant. Organics recycling in Richfield lines up with Hennepin County’s goal of curbside organics pickup for businesses by 2020 and residential properties by 2022.

To learn more about Richfield’s organics recycling program or to register, visit www.richfieldmn.gov/organics.  

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