Energy City Insights

Each month, Energy City Insights offers quick tips on environmentally friendly best practices residents can easily take on at home - from water conservation, home energy efficiency, recycling options and more!

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August Energy City Insights - Organics RecyclingEnergy City Insights - Organics Recycling

Have you ever wondered about our free organics recycling drop-off program? One of our participants, Beth Balmanno started organics collection earlier this year and has successfully integrated this into her daily routine. Learn more about how Beth’s family makes organics recycling work for them and why they’re committed to reducing their waste. Check out our Q&A with Beth below:

Q: Why do you participate in the organics recycling program?
Our family started participating in the organics recycling program at the beginning of 2021. We'd made some resolutions in terms of being better stewards of the earth and figuring out a way to reduce the waste ending up in landfills was a top priority.

Q: What does your organics collection set up look like at home? 
We purchased a locking trash can (less than $20) and set it outside on our kitchen deck. This location makes it handy to immediately dispose of food scraps as we prepare and clean up after meals.

Q: Have you seen a decrease in your trash because of collecting organics?
Organics recycling has drastically reduced the amount of trash we produce. We are a family of four that used to take out 1-2 bags of kitchen trash each week. With the organics recycling, we now take out less than half a bag of kitchen trash a week!

Q: What challenges have you experienced and how have you addressed them? 
We had to retrain ourselves a little in terms of what could and couldn't be composted, but once we established that habit, it just became part of our normal routine. Similar to sorting out certain plastics in curbside recycling, we now do the same thing with organics. During meal prep, we keep a bowl on the counter to scrape food scraps into (carrot tops, onion skins, eggshells, etc.). This gets dumped into the organics container, and then we repeat after meals, scraping plates into the bowl instead of into the trash. Our family was really committed to wanting to make a difference when we started our organics journey, so our challenges have been minimal. These small extra steps don't take much time and they really add up to a substantial reduction in trash. Keeping the recycling container on our deck works wonders for keeping fruit flies that might be drawn to the organic material outside. 

Q: What do you want other residents to know about the program?
There are so many reasons to participate in this program! The organics recycling bags are free to residents, so there is no financial cost involved, and there are multiple material drop locations, which makes it easy to incorporate dropping off your organics waste into normal errand-running. In addition, seeing how much food families end up composting is a great way to become more conscious consumers – our family has done a much better job at menu planning and using up food to reduce our waste.

Perhaps most importantly, though, organics recycling is an effective way to make a tangible difference in the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. This is especially important because food waste in landfills breaks down into methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is actually 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the earth. The small amount of time it takes to recycle organics pays huge dividends!

Thank you Beth Balmanno and family for sharing your organics recycling journey! The City of Elk River has three drop off sites for organics material located at, Elk River City Hall, Maintenance Facility and Elk River Landfill.

Learn more and sign up for the program by visiting


Click here for 2020 Energy City Insights.