The first $400,000 in state Recycling Market Development grants ranged in size from $50,000 to $149,000 and went to four Minnesota recycling companies converting trash into useful new ingredients that can generate revenue and jobs. “Recycling is critical to Minnesota and its economy. It contributes $15 billion to the state’s economy and 36,000 direct and indirect jobs,” Bishop said during the call with MPCA officials, state Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Acton Township) and four recent grant recipients. “The projects funded by these [latest] grants aim to create more local demand for recyclable material, increase value for the raw products and maintain or create jobs. I’m excited to talk about this,” she said.
The award winners — glass recycler Employment Enterprises in Little Falls; paper processor Greenforest Recycling in Brainerd; Northfield Curbside Compost Cooperative in Northfield; and vinyl tape recycler P.E.C.E. Recycling in Cosmos — used the grants mostly to buy processing equipment. Combined, they are on track to convert 2,150 tons of waste glass, paper and vinyl tape and 1,100 cubic yards of food scraps a year into new products that bypass Minnesota landfills.
Greenforest Recycling received the largest grant at $149,763 to buy cleaning machines to convert low-grade paper into higher-grade materials such as ceiling tiles, egg cartons, molded paper and other “upcycled products,” Greenforest owner Jeff Grunenwald told the MPCA. Greenforest now processes 700 tons of paper each month but will soon do 2,300 tons per month. “The demand for this type of paper is increasing,” Grunenwald said, noting that he will soon have three work shifts and add 10 workers.