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Recycle your spring cleanup yard waste — and your kitchen food scraps — and turning it into compost

Ramsey County is reminding residents to bring the leaves they’re getting up off their yards in their spring cleanup to one of its seven local yard recycling centers.


“We’re reminding people that it’s illegal to put those leaves in the trash or to burn them and they should not be raked into the street because they can enter stormwater collection systems and pollute lakes and streams,” said John Springman, environmental health supervisor for Ramsey County Public Health.


“It’s important to remove leaves left on yards over the winter. Leaves that pile up can cause lawn diseases or smother turf grasses.”


The yard waste is turned into compost and mulch that is available to residents free of charge at those seven sites. (


Meanwhile, a new high tech initiative to recycle your kitchen food scraps—most fruit and vegetable peel, cores, seeds, eggshells, coffee grounds and the like—is rolling out in parts of Ramsey County.


According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food waste comprises about 24 percent of municipal solid waste disposed in landfills. Because food waste decays rapidly, it contributes to more methane emissions than any other landfilled materials. 


Soon, residents of more municipalities in both Ramsey and Washington County counties will be able to participate in the innovative curbside program that will recycle their kitchen food waste.


“Residents can get compostable bags that they put their food scraps in and put that in their regular trash. That bag will be recognized by robotics and sorted  from the regular trash and refuse that comes in and it will be pulled off for composting,” Springman explained.


“It does not require an extra cart and your hauler won’t change. That material will wind up at a facility co-owned by Ramsey and Washington Counties.”


Springman said that right now, the program is available to residents of North St Paul and Maplewood. By 2026, residents of all cities in both counties will be eligible to subscribe to the service.


In the meantime, people can take their food scraps to a Ramsey County collection site for composting.


When communities are added to the new program, residents can subscribe and get a year’s worth of free compostable bags. People can go to to see when their community will be added to the kitchen scraps recycling program.


“This is an upcoming project in the development phase. We are still expanding it so it may be a while before all communities in both counties are eligible for the program,” Springman added. “At some point, the food scraps will be put in an anaerobic digestion machine for generating energy in addition to creating compost on the back end.”


Backyard composting is an alternative way to manage food scraps as well as leaves and grass clippings at home instead of hauling it to a yard waste site. People can build their own bin for composting organics and yard waste. Ramsey County residents who go to Recycling Association of Minnesota’s website to order a compost bin or rain barrel can get a $20 rebate.




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