Food waste makes up the biggest percentage of the trash. ~30% of what is sent to landfills and incinerators is food waste. Organics are materials such as food scraps, food-soiled unlined paper and paperboard products, and BPI certified compostable plastics. Organics recycling, or composting, allows residents to recycle a variety of organic materials into nutrient-rich, useful soil, instead of sending it to a landfill. In a landfill, food waste rots and produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Composting reduces greenhouse gas emissions and decreases the costs of wastewater treatment and waste disposal.
Instead of sending vegetable peels, spoiled leftovers, and coffee grounds to the landfill, residents can send them to industrial composting facilities to make valuable nutrient-rich soil. This soil can be used in gardens and landscaping to soak up rainwater and nourish plants. The facility's large composting piles become hot enough to break down meats, bones, fats, certified compostable products, harmful pathogens, and weed seeds. Organics break down in about six to eight weeks at an industrial composting facility, then cure for several months before the final compost can be used.
Backyard composting is a great way to turn waste from your yard and kitchen into a nutrient-rich compost that you can use to improve your soil right at home. You can compost yard waste like leaves and grass clippings as well as fruit and vegetables scraps and coffee grounds at home. You cannot put meat and dairy products into a backyard compost bin because the pile won’t reach as high of temperatures as a commercial composting facility. These temperatures are needed to kill bacteria and break down items.
Where can I purchase compostable bags?
There are several options for purchasing your own compostable bags online or in store. Search for brands like EcoSafe or BioBag, or any that are certified by BPI. Local stores include Menards, Home Depot, Target, Lakewinds, and Cub Foods. Here is more information on where to buy compostable bags in Richfield and Bloomington.
- Please use the organics recycling guide (en Espanol) for information on what can and cannot be recycled.
- Check out this at-home set-up presentation for information and ideas on how to make your organics set-up the most efficient.
- Organics Set-up Basics
- Hennepin County Organics Page
- Folleto de informacion para los residentes en el programa "curbside"
To sign up for organics collection, contact your hauler or the City:
*Video Note: This video was created for the drop-off program. There are currently no locks on the drop-off site dumpsters.*
Organics Curbside Collection Program
Much like with traditional recycling, every property in Richfield is now charged a small flat fee for organics collection and recycling. By doing so, the city reduced the cost to individual residents, incentivized participation, and removed barriers for traditionally marginalized groups. Numerous studies have found a significant increase in organics collection participation with this model. The cost of disposing of trash in landfills or incinerators continues to increase and we hope residents can reduce the amount of trash they throw out by participating in this program. This was a policy decision made by the City Council; we encourage residents to reach out to their councilmember if they have further questions.
- Aspen: 612-884-8008 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Republic: 952-941-5174 or email@example.com
- Waste Management: 952-890-1100 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- City: 612-861-9188 or email@example.com
- Collect your organics at home in a certified compostable bag.
- Knot bags closed and place your bagged organics in the green organics cart.
- Place your organics cart out for weekly collection.
- Most common places to buy bags: Costco, Amazon, Cub
- Most common way to store organic material: Certified BPI compostable bag, brown paper bag
- Most common types of containers: Countertop bin, bucket, ice cream pail
- Most common places to store container: Kitchen counter, freezer
Organics Drop-Off Program
Through a grant funded by Hennepin County, Richfield has launched an organics drop-off program in 2018. Residents can recycle their household organic waste at two drop-off sites in the city. Anyone can participate in this program!
- Where are the drop-off sites?
- How do I sign up?
- Click this link to sign up for the drop-off program. You will receive a confirmation email with information about the program.
- What can go in the drop-off site?
Frequently Asked Questions
If my cart is not picked up on my scheduled day, what do I do?
You should contact your hauler and report a missed pick-up:
- Waste Management (email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 952-890-1100)
- Republic (email: CSTwincities@republicservices.com, phone: 952-941-5174)
- Aspen (email: email@example.com, phone: 612-884-8008)
You can also reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to report a missed pick-up and staff will help rectify the situation.
Do the materials have to be bagged before putting them in the cart?
Only pizza boxes and egg cartons can go in the cart without being bagged. You can use BPI certified compostable bags, in addition to regular brown paper bags to collect your organics waste. Accepted certified brands include Bag to Nature, BioBag, EcoSafe, and any others that have the BPI certified logo. You can find these bags online or in stores such as Cub, Home Depot, Lakewinds, Menards, Target, and multiple ACE Hardware Stores.
How do I sign up if I live in an apartment or condominium?
Your housing association can work directly with your current waste hauler to offer this service.
Currently, Richfield’s organized organics collection program is only designated for residential homes, meaning 1-3 units. If you live in an apartment or condominium, however, you may collect and bring your organics to one of the two organics drop-off sites:
I want to participate, but I don't have room in my garage for another cart.
There are a few solutions you could try: 1) Replace your yard waste cart with lawn and leaf bags. 2) Store your cans outside. This is allowable per City Code.
Where does the stuff that I put in the cart go?
The organics from curbside collection will be sent to the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility in Shakopee. The organics collected at the two drop-off sites is brought to SET- Empire in Rosemount. There they will be recycled into compost, a nutrient-rich material that is used in landscaping and road construction projects to improve our soil.
What do I do about jumping worms?
At the composting facility, the piles of materials which are broken down into compost are temperature monitored. The piles are kept above 131-160 degrees for weeks straight. Jumping worms die between 85-104 degrees for 3 consecutive days. We have chosen to partner with a reputable industrial composting facility and jumping worms have not been an issue in their products.
How do I prevent and/or get rid of maggots?
One suggestion which has worked well in other cities has been to line the organics cart with a lawn and leaf bag. Then deposit the bagged organics into the lawn and leaf bag, and close that inside the cart. This works especially well if the green compostable bags are used in conjunction with the lawn and leaf bags. The idea is to create a physical barrier between the material and the flies.
From the City of Minneapolis website: “Maggots are a common, naturally occurring problem with many organics recycling programs. Even if you didn’t see them, maggots were commonly found in garbage carts before the City implemented the organics recycling program. Maggots are fly larvae and occur when flies lay eggs on organic materials. Maggots are more common in warmer temperatures. To prevent maggots inside your organics recycling cart, you must prevent mature flies from laying eggs on your food scraps by eliminating odors and reducing their access to organic materials. A physical barrier works best."
If you find them in your cart, try leaving the lid open for a couple of hours. Maggots will crawl to the top of the cart and often be eaten by birds.
Can I use regular plastic bags?
Plastic bags are not compostable and are a contaminant. Bags labeled BPI-certified compostable that meet ASTM D6400 standards must be used to collect organics. When you bag items they must be put in a certified compostable bag. Accepted brands include Bag to Nature, BioBag, EcoSafe, and any others that have the BPI certified logo. You can find these bags online or in stores such as Home Depot, Lakewinds, Menards, and Target.
Does the city provide free kitchen pails?
Occasionally, the city provides free kitchen pails at community events. We encourage residents to get creative and use containers you already have, such as a coffee can or an ice cream pail. Otherwise, you can purchase a bin online or check at local stores.
I don't have much organics waste; can I just put my kitchen pail out for collection?
All organic material must be put in compostable bags and placed in the organics cart for efficient collection.
What about using my garbage disposal for food scraps?
Putting food scraps down the garbage disposal places extra processing burdens on wastewater treatment facilities. It takes energy and resources to process solids, including food waste, at wastewater treatment plants. Composting food scraps through the organics program or backyard composting is a better option as finished compost puts valuable nutrients back into the soil.
Where can I get finished compost from the program to use at home?
You can find information about purchasing compost, compost blends, mulch, and other material on the SMSC website, smscorf.com.
We are currently working on bringing back finished compost to residents in the future.
Will my container smell?
Remember that with organics, you're simply moving the organic materials from your garbage cart into your organics cart.
There is a chance your container may have a scent but most residents do not report this. There are steps you can take to reduce any smell. Drain any excess liquids before putting waste in your container. Keep food scraps in a separate container in the fridge or freezer, and then put them in a compostable bag and combine them with the rest of the organics material before you put your cart out for collection.
What is the difference between biodegradable and compostable?
In terms of organics recycling, compostable items are materials which will break down at the commercial composting facility. Biodegradable items may also be compostable, but some of these items take hundreds of years to break down and therefore we do not want them in the curbside organics carts.
Because there is little regulation on the terms biodegradable and compostable, it is important to be careful on what is going into your organics cart. When composting non-food items, look for BPI Certification. It ensures that an item is safely compostable and can be sent to a commercial composting facility.