ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — If you’ve visited The Science Museum of Minnesota lately, you’ve probably noticed some changes.
There’s the new Maya exhibit and a new cafe with gelato, but perhaps the biggest change at the museum is one you haven’t noticed. Two years ago, the folks here dumped out all their trash and took inventory. What they found was disturbing, but what they did to fix it is incredible.
The Science Museum of Minnesota is home to some of the most eye-popping exhibits in the state, and a lot of trash. An official said the facility generates about half a million pounds of waste per year.
Two years ago, after taking a garbage inventory, museum officials discovered that despite their efforts only 18 percent of their waste was being recycled. So Vice President Mike Day says they made a plan.
“The biggest investment in terms of capital, new equipment and changing our practices really was at the back end of the waste stream,” said Day.
So they started outside and built a new loading dock to house smaller bins for recycling, compost and at the end, just trash.
Inside, the waste room is nearly spotless. Custodial Manager Dan Satter said color-coded bins are constantly being emptied.
“The gray would be considered trash. The blue would be cans, bottles, glass. Then we’ve got the green which is compost,” Day said.
But the waste is sorted from the moment you throw away that coffee cup. New bins were designed after studying patrons’ habits.
“There was someone standing by to measure their recycle anxiety, and to make sure the signage was the best it could be,” Day said.
Now two years into a three-year plan, the museum is recycling 75 percent of its waste and making a blue print for others to follow. Officials said they would like to live in a community where nothing is wasted, and with this initiative, they’re off to a very good start on that goal.
This overhaul of the waste system was done in partnership with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. They will work with the museum to take this system to other facilities across the state.