Andrea Siegel, co-chair of the Tangletown Neighborhood Association (TNA) environmental committee, has been spreading the message this summer about changing your recycling mindset by retraining yourself, thanks in part to a $10,000 grant TNA received from Hennepin County. Her neighborhood is one of two in Southwest Minneapolis that has received a grant, which the county hopes will boost participation in the city’s 4-year-old curbside organics-recycling program.

Organics recycling is the process of diverting food scraps, food-soiled paper and other compostable materials from the trash. The county says that doing so helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and runoff, improve soil quality and support local jobs. Minneapolis first unveiled its curbside organics-recycling program in 2015 and completed its rollout in 2017. The city program is only open to residents of buildings with four or fewer units, all of whom are required by ordinance to use city garbage and recycling services.

There is no additional cost to participate beyond the city garbage and recycling fees residents already pay. The city empties the organics bins once a week, as it does trash. (Residents of five-plus-unit buildings can use eight drop-off sites across the city, including four in Southwest Minneapolis, if they want to recycle organics.) About 47.6% of the city’s 107,000-plus eligible households participate in Minneapolis’ curbside organics-recycling program, according to Kellie Kish, the city’s recycling coordinator. That’s up about 2 percentage points from last year. She said it’s become more difficult to sign up new households than in previous years. “We’re kind of hitting the critical mass,” she said.

In Tangletown, 60% of eligible households participate, according to Siegel. She said TNA has persuaded 23 new households to sign up for the program through its grant-funded efforts, which have included 60-plus hours of door-knocking.

It has also persuaded 63 Tangletown residents to pledge to increase their organics recycling at home. Siegel said barriers to participation include perceptions about how much time it will take and concerns about smell, bugs and space.

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