Cookie Cart, a Minneapolis bakery and nonprofit organization, received a $10,000 recycling grant in January, along with 10 other Hennepin County businesses and organizations. Now they’ll be able to make environmental sustainability a strong aspect of their business and up the ante on their recycling programs.
In addition to selling delicious cookies, Cookie Cart helps youth ages 15-18 gain first-time work experience while learning important life skills. All cookie profits are invested back into Cookie Cart’s youth employment program. Cookie Cart is currently expanding and relocating their bakery, and they will use Hennepin County’s business recycling grant to improve their recycling system and implement an organics recycling system.
Organics composting is great for the environment — recycling food scraps, food-soiled paper products and other compostable items. A recycling hauler picks up the collected organics from a business and brings them to a commercial composting facility. It takes about six to nine months for the food scraps and other organic materials to be turned into valuable soil amendment that can be used in landscaping and road construction projects. Finished compost from businesses can also be used to improve soils, prevent soil erosion and runoff and capture carbon dioxide after several months in a composting facility.
In addition to organics composting, Cookie Cart will use the grant funds to prevent waste by replacing disposable service ware with reusable plates, utensils and cups. “Our youth leadership action team will help start organics recycling at our new location,” says Cookie Cart’s Marit Mechels, “which will build recycling habits for participants.” Organics recycling will not only lessen Cookie Cart’s impact on the environment, but will give their youth hands-on sustainability experience.
Businesses produce more than half the total waste in Hennepin County and nearly two-thirds of waste created at businesses is recyclable. Reducing waste shows an organization’s commitment to environmental sustainability. Strong recycling programs also protect natural resources by preventing waste from ending up in incinerators and landfills and avoiding greenhouse gas emissions.
Recycling grants are available for up to $50,000 for businesses to start or improve programs to divert recyclables and organics from the trash. Most businesses and nonprofits in the county — from large office buildings to churches, restaurants and apartment buildings — are eligible to apply. These grants can help with the purchase of recycling containers, equipment, hauling services, and other minor improvements to loading docks installments and waste enclosures. The next grant application deadline is June 15.
In addition to the recycling grant funds, Hennepin County staff can answer questions about the application process, review recycling project ideas and even conduct on-site assessments to determine the organization’s best options for recycling in terms of finances. Additionally, all businesses located in Hennepin County can order free signage including posters, labels and stickers for recycling, organics recycling and trash containers.
For more information about Hennepin County’s recycling grants and services visit http://hennepin.us/businessrecycling or contact Andre Xiong at [email protected] or 612-543-1316. This information was provided by Hennepin County Environmental Services.