Tag Archives | Minneapolis

Un-plastic-bagging Minneapolis and Minnesota

Discouraging single-use (“carryout”) plastic shopping bags is increasingly common around the world, for rather obvious reasons.

Reducing combustible trash helps fight garbage incineration!

According to the new media outlet MinnyApple (http://www.minnyapple.com/2016/03/18/plastic/#comment-1457):

“Minnesotans throw away 87,000 tons of plastic bags every year. Less than 5% of plastic bags are recycled nationally. Plastic bags frequently clog machinery at single-sort recycling facilities. Some plastic bags end up as litter in our environment, breaking down into smaller pieces of plastic, that leech chemicals into soil and water. In Minneapolis, most plastic bags that are thrown away end up in the downtown incinerator.”

Plastic bags are mostly made out of polyethylene which is mostly made out of natural gas (background on PE here: http://www.britannica.com/science/polyethylene )

So it is not surprising that may powerful interests are lobbying against this change–oil and gas people, plastics manufacturers, and especially the mega-evil Grocery Manufacturers Association (also a big opponent of GMO labeling).

One important reason for change is to keep plastic bags and other combustible stuff out of garbage incinerators.  Burning plastic is just burning petroleum-once-removed and contributes to air pollution and climate change.  And the burners need the “heat value” of the plastic,   So one may expect Minnesota’s politically powerful garbage incinerator industry to be against limiting plastic bags.  Note that 87,000 tons above!

Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon, Chair of the Health, Environment & Community Engagement Committee of the Council, has scheduled a public hearing for 1:30 on March 21,2016 on a draft ordinance.

“Carry out bags in retail establishments” ordinance (Bring your own bag) http://www.minneapolismn.gov/meetings/legislation/WCMSP-175529

This ordinance was first announced to the City Council on August 7, 2016 (procedural history here: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/meetings/legislation/WCMS1Q-079203 )

Only two of the 13 council members (Gordon, Ward 2 and Warsame, Ward 6) are listed as sponsors of this ordinance, in spite of it’s no-brainer nature. Where are the other 11 council members???? (http://www.minneapolismn.gov/council/)

A cynic could suggest that the Council leadership has assigned the areas it doesn’t really care much about (Health, Environment & Community Engagement ) to its most greenie-weenie member, a sort of ghetto of the most important, to be ignored as much as possible.

Regardless, Cam Gordon deserves support on this good-for-the-public-interest ordinance:


Public hearing at1:30 on March 21,2016 (agenda Item #1, http://www.minneapolismn.gov/meetings/hece/WCMSP-175147 )

“How to have your voice heard:” http://www.minneapolismn.gov/council/engage/WCMS1Q-074472

You can email all Council Members with one group email address:


Individual contact info below:

“Ward office keep tally sheets on policy proposals, controversial topics, and other matters that are then provided to the Council Member. Aides generally lump calls into “pro” and “con” categories, giving their Council Member an instant poll on a particular topic.”

Ward Council Member Phone

1Kevin Reich(612) 673-2201
2Cam Gordon(612) 673-2202
3Jacob Frey(612) 673-2203
4Barbara A. Johnson(612) 673-2204
5Blong Yang(612) 673-2205
6Abdi Warsame(612) 673-2206
7Lisa Goodman(612) 673-2207
8Elizabeth Glidden(612) 673-2208
9Alondra Cano(612) 673-2209
10Lisa Bender(612) 673-2210
11John Quincy(612) 673-2211
12Andrew Johnson(612) 673-2212
13Linea Palmisano(612) 673-2213


For those not connected to Minneapolis, please use Gordon’s ordinance as a model for similar action from YOUR local government and from you state Senator and Representative.

So, speak up!

Alan Muller

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The “Burner County” resource page–resources to better understand why Hennepin County owns, and Covanta operates, the “HERC” garbage incinerator in Downtown Minneapolis, MN

Here are links to various documents, some found on the official Hennepin County website, some found elsewhere, and some obtained by means of MN Data Practices Act (“Freedom of Information”) requests.  This is a work in progress and we will be adding to it.  If you have documents to contribute to the effort, please send them to Alan Muller, alan@greendel.org

(There are also many important HERC documents on the website of Minneapolis Neighbors for Clean Air.)

My letter to the Hennepin County board about HERC concerns.  Includes links to background documents…. This letter contains various important questions we hope the County will provide meaningful answers to.

Contract for hiring the Washington, DC law firm Morris, Manning & Martin for $50,000 in connection with HERC contract extension. Obtained from Hennepin County via Data Practices Act.

Agreement between Hennepin County and HDR Engineering for services related to negotiating a 20-year extension of the “service agreement” with Covanta for operating the HERC garbage burner. Cost: $139,408.   Obtained from Hennepin County via Data Practices Act.

The following two documents need to be looked at together.  One is the “Board Action Request,” giving a “TOTAL NET AMENDED NOT TO EXCEED $407,163,484.00”  The second is the text of the Amendment with an attached list of actual projects.



This is a page extracted from the 342 page Hennepin County CBTF [Capital Budget Task Force] Recommended: 2015-2019 Capital Improvement Program. The full document is likely available on the Hennepin County website here: http://www.hennepin.us/your-government/budget-finance/budgets, but I am not attempting to link to the specific document as things seem to keep moving around.


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