MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Starting this week, your leftover food could end up in some interesting places.

Hennepin County is enacting new recycling rules for restaurants on Jan. 1.

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It’s no secret that Twin Cities restaurants are full of flavorful cuisine. But it doesn’t take long for the food to go from fresh to trash, which is why the staff at HopCat restaurant composts much of their waste.

“We want to eliminate as much as we can, the impact on the earth, so to be able to do as much as we can, eliminate trash in general,” general manager Matt Casey said.

The beer and food stop on Nicollet Mall tosses food to compost daily, making the restaurant in early compliance for a new Hennepin County ordinance.

Malory Anderson, a waste and recycling specialist, is heading up the program for the county.

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“It’s a program for certain businesses that have large amounts of food waste to start composting or separating that food to feed to animals,” Anderson said.

She says food makes up the biggest part of restaurant and grocery store trash, so she is heading up the new program that includes restaurants, or places like the Hilton, that have a ton of waste per week.

“It’s doing a good thing, so it’s making sure to reduce our trash burden so it’s not being burdened for electricity, it’s not being put into a landfill, its being composted or being fed to animals,” Anderson said.

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The county says they will spend next year educating restaurants, grocery stores and nursing homes on the new ordinance. They plan to start enforcing it in 2021.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield