Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee gets update on recycling funds

The Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee heard from commissioners in Ottertail and Washington counties Wednesday about the need for directing a larger share of state funds to county recycling (SCORE) grants. These grants are currently funded through a tax on solid waste management, and are used by counties in a variety of ways, such as household hazardous waste programs, curbside recycling, food waste and organics recycling, county recycling centers, and e-waste collection.

Several counties argue that under the current system, SCORE recycling grants are insufficient to address the state’s recycling goals, and counties need more help. Legislation is being sponsored this year that phases in an increase in the amount of solid waste tax revenue going to counties for recycling programs. The solid waste tax yielded $79.5 million in 2017, but because of the way the tax revenues are currently distributed, about 30% was directed to the state’s general fund to be used for purposes unrelated to solid waste management. These counties are calling for a change in the formula so that by 2022, 100% of solid waste tax revenues would go to counties for recycling. It was pointed out that Minnesota’s recycling industry creates 37,000 jobs, and maintaining its viability keeps resources, jobs, and businesses in the state. (S.F. 1650)