ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans take their recycling chores seriously, but a legislative auditor's report Friday notes that the amount of trash destined for landfills is still on the rise.
There's much to brag about in the report, a comprehensive look at the state's recycling and waste management programs. In 2000, 63 percent of counties met or exceeded state recycling goals. And Minnesota's recycling rate of 40 percent is better than most states.
But there's room for improvement. The state failed to meet its goal of reducing waste generated per capita by 10 percent between 1993 and 2000; it actually rose 22 percent over the span.
"We are still a throwaway society and we continue to bury the evidence," Legislative Auditor James Nobles said.
In 2000, 60 percent of the garbage that remained after recyclables were removed wound up in landfills, up from 31 percent in 1992, according to the report. (Other rubbish was incinerated, composted or used for energy).
The Office of Environmental Assistance has said previously there is enough capacity to handle Minnesota garbage until 2010 without expanding existing landfills or adding new ones. Garbage now goes to 22 Minnesota landfills and 11 in bordering states.
It is generally more expensive to recycle than to take trash to landfills, even though there are state subsidies for recycling.
Minnesota helps fund local recycling programs through state grants totaling $14 million a year, doled out to counties with the expectation that they provide a minimum 25 percent match.
County officials told auditors that the grants are critical.
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