MINNEAPOLIS — There could soon be big changes to how trash is managed in Hennepin County — and how much it will cost you.
There's a new timeline to transition away from Minneapolis' big trash incinerator.
If you live or work in Hennepin County, your trash is dumped in one of two places: a landfill, where it's buried, or a boiler, where it's burned. Dave McNary is an assistant director at the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center, or HERC.
"It's really beneficial. You're managing trash. You're not burying it, and you're creating energy," he said.
The energy is then sold to Xcel Energy, which uses the megawatts to power about 25,000 homes.
"We do have emissions from this plant, but we do everything we can to reduce and eliminate those emissions," McNary said.
A new state law on clean energy no longer recognizes HERC as a source of renewable energy. Because of that, county officials warn the state could withhold money if HERC stays open.
There are also health concerns among people who live in north Minneapolis. That's a key reason why, this week, Hennepin County commissioners set a new timeline to shut the plant down sometime between 2028 and 2040.
"I always say this – who in Hennepin County would like to have the HERC if we moved it? And you know what the answer is? No one," Commissioner Jeffrey Lunde said. "And so I think the place that it is now, people in north Minneapolis really feel that it contributes in a negative way to their health."
Without HERC, what happens to all that trash? The commissioner says it won't all go to the landfill.
The goal is to reduce the amount of trash we throw out.
"Organics recycling. We need to recycle much more efficiently plastics, metal. Metal pays for itself, plastic doesn't. We also need to have manufacturers not use materials that can't be recyclable at all," Lunde said.
If and when HERC closes, it will affect about 50 full-time employees and an additional 200 or so contractors.
The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners has asked their administrator to prepare a more definitive transition plan by Feb. 1.
Watch WCCO News at 6 on Friday to see why Bloomington's mayor is calling this a crisis.
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