A garbage facility in Newport is about to take a $43 million dive into organic recycling. The addition to the Ramsey/Washington Recycling & Energy Center would enable it to pull food scraps out of the waste stream for the first time. According to a proposal, the project would increase recycling, decrease the amount of garbage being burned, and reduce material sent to landfills. “The purpose here is to get more value out of waste,” said Zack Hansen, Ramsey County’s Environmental Health director.
The plan was submitted to the Newport Planning Commission at its Aug. 13 meeting. It calls for a 40-foot-tall addition to the existing facility at Interstate 494 and U.S. Highway 61. The proposal would bring the public cost of the center to $82 million — $24 million to buy it in 2016, $15 million in improvement projects, and $43 million the new organic-waste expansion. The upgrade is necessary to handle the anticipated surge of organic waste, said Hansen.
Officials hope to kick off the Durable Compost Bag program, in which customers would put food scraps into plastic bags and toss them into the garbage. At the plant — in the new Durable Compost Bags Addition — those bags would be sorted out, and the organic material used to make mulch. The cost of that program and the expansion would cost an average of $10 per customer per year, said Hansen. The bags would be free, and participation voluntary.