History: Hennepin County has a goal to recycle 75 percent of waste by 2030. Approximately 78 percent of waste generated at schools is made up of recyclables and organic materials, such as food waste and compostable papers. Nearly half of schools in the county collect organic materials.
To help reach the recycling goal, the county offers grants to schools that implement projects to reduce, reuse, recycle or compost waste. The grants are available to public and private K-12 schools, with $200,000 available annually. Since 2003, the county has funded 141 projects, totaling $2 million for school recycling programs.
The county released a request for proposals in February 2018, and nine proposals were received. Seven proposals were recommended for funding, for a total of $138,300 (Resolution 18-0250). After the initial round, $61,700 in grant funds remained; therefore, additional applications were solicited for grants of less than $15,000. The following four applications were received:
$15,000 from Robbinsdale Area Schools
$12,200 from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School (Minneapolis)
$4,000 from Metro Schools (Minneapolis), and
$9,100 from Yinghua Academy (Minneapolis)
Approval of the grant agreement with Robbinsdale Area Schools requires board approval because the school district has executed contracts with the county that exceed $50,000. The remaining three agreements are being approved administratively because their funding requests, combined with their other agreements with the county, total less than $50,000 per school.
Current Request: This request is for authorization for the County Administrator to negotiate Agreement PR00000783 with Robbinsdale Area Schools for a school recycling grant project during the period of February 1, 2019 through July 1, 2020, with the not to exceed amount of $15,000. The district will improve its recycling program at Armstrong High School by adding containers in common areas and athletic facilities, inside and outside of the school building.
Impact/Outcomes: Improving recycling and expanding organics at schools helps meet the county’s goal to recycle or compost 75 percent of waste by 2030. Top performing public schools have achieved a recycling rate of 37 percent and an organics recycling rate of 27 percent. Schools that supplement recycling programs by adding organics have a higher recycling rate than do schools that have recycling programs alone.
During the development of the most recent Solid Waste Management Master Plan, public engagement efforts confirmed that support of school recycling continues to be a priority. Residents, community group representatives, elected officials and business members all noted the importance of organics recycling in schools as a way to teach youth, who will then take the behavior home and continue the practice throughout their lives.