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Global Warming

MN Solid Waste Reform Could Sharply Reduce Greenhouse Emissions

A new Minnesota stakeholder report identifies 38 solid waste reform recommendations that could dramatically reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

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A report submitted December 31 to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) outlines 38 ways the state could achieve a 20-year reduction of 52.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions through changes in solid waste policy and practices.

Coordinated by the Minnesota Environmental Initiative (MEI), a nonprofit organization, the report contains 22 consensus recommendations from a roup of stakeholders and another 16 with majority support in the group. The MPCA commissioned the MEI report to test support for strategies to help meet ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets the state has set in policy and law.  MPCA’s 2007-2008 solid waste policy focused on ways that product stewardship, waste prevention and recycling measures could help contribute to climate change soluions.  Among the consensus recommendations in the MEI report:

* Extending the life of personal computers and delaying the purchase of replacement computers by an anverage of one year or more;

* Elimination of mandatory delivery of white page phone directories and an opt-out system for yellow page phone directories;

* A food waste reduction campaign.

There were disagreements on some of the bolder recommendations, which included:

* Enactment of a Minnesota Product Stewardship Act which would deal with source reduction (including packaging reduction) and product redesign in stewardship plans. The legislation would stipulate that plan goals should be enforceable and seek to maximize material recovery for reuse, recycling and/or composting.

* Enactment of a state beverage container deposit or recycling refund law like 11 other state, boosting container recycling rates in the state from 35% to 80% or more.

* Requiring retailers to provide plastic bag recycling.

The report is expected to serve as a basis for legislative solid waste and greenhouse gas reduction proposals in the state’s 2010 and 2011 sessions.

Photo credit: City of Stillwater, Minnesota.




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