Results are in: City collects 6,434 more tons of recycling in first full year of citywide one sort

 In the City of Minneapolis’ first year of citywide one-sort recycling, crews collected 6,434 more tons of recycling than when the city still used the older multi-sort process. Trash collected over the same periods went down by 13,511 tons.

The increase in recycling brings the city’s overall residential recycling rate up to 25 percent, which means that a quarter of what we discard is recycled instead of thrown away. That compares to 18 percent before one sort started. The City hopes to double the amount of recyclables collected from 18,000 tons in 2012 to 36,000 tons in 2015 by making it easier to recycle. The first year of citywide one-sort recycling was July 2013-June 2014.

Findings for the first full year of one sort include:

·         Of the total trash and recycling collected, recycling now makes up 25 percent compared to 18 percent during the multi-sort system.

·         Of the total trash and recycling collected, trash now makes up 75 percent compared to 82 percent during the multi-sort system.

·         A consultant study estimated that processing costs for one-sort recyclables would be $60-$80 per ton, but the City pays $49 per ton (which is the same fee to dump garbage at the incinerator). The difference between the estimated and the actual cost is that the City shares revenue for the sale of the recyclables with the processor.

·         The residual rate (the percentage of non-recyclable or unrecoverable materials that end up in the recycling) is around 5 percent, which indicates residents are doing a good job at sorting recyclables from non-recyclables.

·         One-sort recycling allows for simpler, more efficient processes. For instance, all of the garbage and recycling collection vehicles are the same make and model so purchasing is simpler, fewer spare parts are needed, and the fleet doesn’t require as many spare trucks because there are aren’t as many routes. More storage space is available because the new trucks are smaller than the old trailers.

·         Reduced routes. The number of routes needed to pick up recycling has been cut in half from 24 to 12 because the new trucks can compact materials.

·         Reduced injuries. Crews no longer need to separate items and throw cardboard pieces overhead. Total workers compensation claims are reduced by more than 62 percent from 2012 to 2013. (The City moved to one sort citywide in July 2013.) In 2012, 33 percent of injuries were recycling related, and in 2014 year to date 12 percent are.

·         Residents who want an extra recycling cart don’t have to pay for it, and 879 households have an extra recycling cart.

Staff continues to meet with neighborhood and community groups, attend events and provide presentations for residents in areas that are showing lower participation in the recycling program.

One-sort recycling, where customers combine their glass, plastic, paper, aluminum and cardboard into one container when putting them out for collection, began in fall 2012 for 30,000 Minneapolis residential recycling customers. All 105,000 Minneapolis residential recycling customers had their one-sort carts by June 11 this year.

The change makes recycling a lot easier and more convenient for residents. One sort removes the need to sort recyclables and it means residents no longer need to flatten, bundle and tie cardboard with twine. The new one-sort carts provide residents with more space to collect more recycling and can be easily rolled to the curb, unlike the old multi-sort bins.

Making products from recycled material rather than virgin material conserves natural resources and creates less waste. It also causes less pollution and uses less energy; for instance, 95 percent less energy is used to make a can from recycled aluminum than from raw materials.

For more information about one-sort recycling in Minneapolis, visit


Published Oct 21, 2014



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