Minnesota passed a law in 2009 that mandated all yard trimmings generated in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area could not be collected in plastic bags. The intention behind the law was to prevent non-biodegradable plastic from entering composting facilities. The compostable bag law was an amendment to the existing yard trimmings diversion law (stipulating that yard trimmings may not be sent to landfills and instead must be composted) that went into effect statewide in 1994. Given that the region in this seven county area is home to half of Minnesota’s population, the ban on plastic bags in organic waste collection will have a significant impact.
Under the new law, residents in the City of Minneapolis were required to begin using compostable bags by January 1, 2013. Residents of Dakota County who bag their waste were already required to use compostable bags for yard waste pick up.
Compostable bags include paper Kraft bags (large brown paper bags) or compostable plastic bags. Compostable plastic bags are usually clear or tinted a translucent shade of green, white, or pink; however the color is not the sure way of determining the compostibility of a plastic bag. Compostable plastic bags should clearly state that they meet ASTM D6400 standards for composting and that they are “compostable.” Bags marked “biodegradable” or “degradable” do not satisfy the requirements of the state law.
Minnesota Yard Waste Prohibition Law (MN Statutes 2009 § 115A.931)
115A.931 YARD WASTE PROHIBITION.
(a) Except as authorized by the agency, in the metropolitan area after January 1, 1990, and outside the metropolitan area after January 1, 1992, a person may not place yard waste:
(1) in mixed municipal solid waste;
(2) in a disposal facility; or
(3) in a resource recovery facility except for the purposes of reuse, composting, or composting.
(b) MS 2008 [Renumbered 115A.03, subd 38] (c) On or after January 1, 2010, a person may not place yard waste or source-separated compostable materials generated in a metropolitan county in a plastic bag delivered to a transfer station or compost facility unless the bag meets all the specifications in ASTM Standard Specification for Compostable Plastics (D6400). For purposes of this paragraph, “metropolitan county” has the meaning given in section 473.121, subdivision 4, and “ASTM” has the meaning given in section 296A.01, subdivision 6.
(d) A person who immediately empties a plastic bag containing yard waste or source-separated compostable materials delivered to a transfer station or compost facility and removes the plastic bag from the transfer station or compost facility is exempt from paragraph (c).
(e) Residents of a city of the first class that currently contracts for the collection of yard waste are exempt from paragraph (c) until January 1, 2013, if, by that date, the city implements a citywide source-separated compostable materials collection program using durable carts.
- The Minnesota Legislature provides a list of Minnesota’s Composting Laws
- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency – Compost Facilities
- Minnesota Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board – Compostable Bags Tool Kit
Original post from July 30, 2012
Updated March 10, 2016