Over the past month Conservation Minnesota has partnered with four environmental education groups throughout Minnesota to collect and recycle more than 65,000 beverage containers. We coordinated these Recycling Refund Drives to demonstrate the benefits of a deposit/refund program here in Minnesota.
For the second year in a row we partnered with RNeighbors in Rochester who once again collected and recycled 10,000 cans and bottles. The College of St. Benedict Office of Sustainability led the campus wide effort to collect and recycle more than 30,000 containers, which was three times their goal. In Minnetonka, the High School Earth Club dedicated a whole week to collecting over 13,000 cans and bottles from recycling containers and the lunchroom. And most recently Winona Senior High School Student Environmental Club greatly exceeded expectations by collecting nearly 12,000 beverage containers. Conservation Minnesota donated 10 cents per container, which each group is using to continue their recycling and conservation efforts.
The Recycling Refund is a simple and convenient way to increase the state’s recycling rate while providing the potential added benefits of creating much-needed revenue for the state and providing schools, community and charitable organizations with an innovative new way to raise money. Minnesotans currently recycle 35 percent of all beverage containers. In nearby states with can and bottle deposits already on the books, their recycling rates are closer to 90 percent.
The legislature failed to act on the bill this session. With a projected $1 billion budget deficit facing them in next year’s budget process, we are hopeful that our time is close. We have laid the groundwork by engaging citizens around the state with our community recycling drives, and we are hopeful that the next legislative session may be the one that finally brings this important and pragmatic idea to center stage.