School-recycling grant application open until Feb. 28

Updated: February 10, 2017 - 12:41 pm

Hennepin County is offering grants for public and private schools to start or improve recycling, organics recycling or waste-reduction programs.

The county’s school recycling grants can fund projects such as on-site composting programs, milk-carton recycling in cafeterias and purchasing compostable food ware. It also can provide stipends for teachers to start and lead environmental clubs, water bottle filler retrofits and the hauling of organics.

Schools and districts can receive $50,000, said Hennepin County Recycling Technician Kira Berglund, though that amount would be more likely for a school district than individual building. Schools that apply for more than $25,000 need to provide a 25 percent match.

The county has funded at least a part of every applicant the last couple years, Berglund said. It’s had grants available since 2002 and grants specifically for schools since 2012.

Nearly 80 percent of school waste is recyclable or compostable, according to the county. A 2010 Minnesota Pollution Control Agency report found that schools generate about one-half pound of waste per capita per day.

Minneapolis Public Schools has received grants the past three years for organics recycling at Bancroft, Broadway, Lyndale, Washburn, Edison, Roosevelt, South and Hmong International Academy. The district has organics recycling at 33 buildings.

According to MPS, the cost of hauling organics is $15 per ton versus about $42 a ton for trash. The district also said that organics are exempt from the county solid waste fee and state solid waste tax.

Hennepin County will award up to $200,000 in school grants this year. In addition, it has a business-grants program for businesses that want to start or improve their recycling, organics or waste-reduction programs.

School-recycling grant applications are due at 4 p.m. on Feb. 28. Visit hennepin.us/schoolrecycling to learn more and apply.

Business-recycling grant applications are due Feb. 15. Visit hennepin.us/businessrecycling to learn more.

City offers programs to help pollinators

The Minneapolis Health Department is offering two programs to provide pollinator friendly trees in the city.

The Conservation of Minneapolis Bees Program has residents help with the instillation, weeding and watering of pollinator-friendly patches and trees. Each patch includes seven to 10 native neonicotinoid-free plants.

The Pollinator Patch Program has residents help determine how much pollinator habitat exists in the city. They take a 10-question quiz to help assess the habitat around them, and each person who takes the quiz will receive half a flat of native pollinator friendly plants, free signage and a certificate.

About one-third of food and drink produced in the U.S. depends on pollinators, which in total produce more than $20 billion in domestic products, according to the city. They are threatened, however, by loss and fragmentation of habitat, disease, parasites, pesticides and more.

Contact the city at beefriendly@minneapolismn.gov if you are interested in hosting a pollinator patch or a pollinator-friendly tree.

Recycling guides mailed to customers

Minneapolis mailed recycling guides to its recycling customers earlier this month.

The guides include information on all city solid-waste and recycling services as well as how to get rid of excess household garbage, construction and demolition debris, how to dispose of hazardous waste and resources to reduce waste.

The guide also includes information on what customers can and can’t recycle through the solid-waste and recycling services, and it shows pickup dates through March 2018.

Minneapolis solid-waste and recycling customers recycled over 500 tons more of paper products, plastic and glass and metal food and beverage containers in 2016 than in 2015. The city collected 29,500 tons of recyclables last year, and residents who participated in the organics program diverted more than 3,300 tons of compostable materials.

Customers can sign up for organics for no extra cost at minneapolismn.gov/organics or by calling 311. You can sign up at minneapolismn.gov/solid-waste to get email reminders before every recycling day.

City honored with solar, energy awards

Minneapolis has received an award for its leadership in advancing solar energy and another for encouraging energy efficiency, conservation and renewable-energy generation.

The city earned a national SolSmart Gold designation, which signals its openness for solar business and work attracting solar-industry advancement. It also earned an achievement award as part of Minnesota’s Clean Energy Community Awards program.

SolSmart is a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Cities and counties earn the designation by taking steps to save money for businesses that invest in solar.

Minneapolis has updated zoning requirements, reduced solar permitting time and costs, done solar education and outreach and more.

The city received its achievement award for the formation of the Clean Energy Partnership, collaboration with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy to hit its climate goals.

Minneapolis aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050.