One look at the matrix explaining how to recycle in Minneapolis, and anyone pondering whether or not to join the program might feel a little woozy, no matter what their feelings towards this planet.
Nine categories, from batteries to box board, can sometimes be a challenge to sort in order to get the recycling bins out before 7 a.m. on pick-up day, and it shows. According to a presentation given to the Minneapolis City Council's Transportation and Public Works Committee on Tuesday, the program has seen participation in its recycling program either stagnate or decline in neighborhoods across the city, even though residents broadly support the idea of recycling.
The committee ultimately approved a proposal from city staff to reduce those nine dizzying streams down to one, based on a pilot program recently run by the city. If the full council approves the proposition on May 25, the city will ultimately move to a system that could increase convenience for residents, increase participation in the recycling program, and increase the program's cost-effectiveness.
Perversely, these "single-sort" systems sometimes lead to more recyclable stuff getting thrown out, said Felicity Britton of Linden Hills Power and Light, a local non-profit working for citywide dual-sort recycling and composting. Broken glass, she said, can contaminate paper, and more non-recyclable
"While I see a big volume increase by going to single-sort, I am concerned about a big volume increase in material that can't be recycled," she told Patch in an email. "Hopefully that won't be the case—maybe the (recycling centers) are much better at sorting and the residual levels will be low. I'll cross my fingers!"
Updated 11:06 a.m. 5/15/12: This story was updated to include comments from local recycling and composting advocate Felicity Britton.