By David Schuman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The amount of time Minnesotans have spent at home this year has made a difference in what’s getting thrown out in the trash.

Out of sight, out of mind. That’s probably how most of us feel about our garbage once it’s left the house, but not Ben Knudson of Hennepin County Waste Reduction and Recycling.

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“We’ve heard reports that cardboard is off the charts. People are ordering so much more,” Knudson said.

He says the shift from commercial to residential waste is real.

“People are generating more organics at home, saying, ‘We’re at home. We’re going to cook. We’re not going out as much,’” Knudson said.

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He says many more people than usual are asking about recycling and composting during the pandemic. It’s especially important now because some metro area landfills are running up against their permitted capacities.

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(credit: Hennepin County)

The state’s taking applications to expand those capacities, because of a chain of events that started when a waste-to-energy facility in Elk River closed last year, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Peder Sandhei.

“That facility was managing about 280,000 tons of garbage a year, and so now that waste has to go someplace else, likely to a landfill,” Sandhei said.

The state says the landfill in Burnsville will be applying for more capacity because current projections have it running out of space in a few years.

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So does that mean that the average person at home has to worry about what’s going to happen to their trash when they put it at the end of their driveway?

“No, we never let it get to that point,” Knudson said.

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Here are some waste reduction and recycling resources:

David Schuman