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  • Writer's pictureJustice Jones

What's Up with HERC?

Recently, you may have heard a lot of talk about a place called HERC. You're probably wondering... What is it?


HERC stands for Hennepin Energy Recovery Center. It's known as what's called a waste-to-energy facility. This means that it converts waste to electricity and heating for nearby buildings. According to Hennepin County, 75% of the waste carried by garbage trucks comes from Minneapolis, and the remaining 25% from the suburbs. After its arrival, the waste is fed to the boilers with a crane while operators look for and pull out hazardous items. As the waste burns, steam is produced. The steam moves a turbine which generates electricity. This electricity is then then sold to Xcel Energy. The remaining ashes are put in the landfill. Hennepin County's website says it's more environmentally friendly than a landfill, producing fewer emissions of greenhouse gasses. It generates electricity, recycles metal, provides jobs & recycles metal.



What's The Problem?

Simply put, burning trash is toxic to the environment and our health. Employees of HERC, nearby families, and neighbors are at risk of developing health issues due to the toxins from the emissions of chemical fumes from burning garbage.

Communities surrounding HERC have health concerns linked to brain damage, cancer, respiratory illnesses, eye irritation, and heart problems, and apparently, that's not all.


No-Burn.org says that the ash created is a huge environmental issue as well. "The more pollutants an air pollution control system removes, the more toxic its fly ash is. Incineration also generates new toxic chemicals such as dioxins and furans, which can leach into soil and groundwater and accumulate in food chains."


The Climate + Clean Energy Equity Fund created a fact sheet that notes that the communities surrounding HERC have the highest rates of asthma, "For some neighborhoods, environmental pollution is just another challenge on top of a growing list: the lack of family-supporting incomes; high utility bills; unemployment; homelessness; prevalence of asthma, cancer, diabetes; poor mental health."


What Can You Do?

Learning about environmental justice can seem daunting and overwhelming. I am personally not an advocate for climate doom. If we keep a level head, think deeply about our next steps, and work together, we can make a difference for the people coming behind us. The MN EJ Table plans to transition HERC from a garbage incinerator to a zero-waste facility.

Here's a brief overview of the steps to combat the impacts of pollution on our communities.

  • Shut down the HERC by December 31st, 2025, or no later than 2028.

  • Work closely with the city to create a plan for immediate waste reduction in Minneapolis.

  • Upgrade landfilling & create a resource recovery park.

  • Convene a grants task force.

  • Gather community input on the future of the HERC sit.


Join the Zero Waste Movement

Did you know that approximately 70% of what is burned by the HERC could instead be recycled or composted? We can shut down the HERC and achieve a Zero Waste system by implementing these simple yet effective tactics:



FREE Compost for Minneapolis Homeowners & Renters

Homeowners and renters with City garbage service in Minneapolis can sign up for FREE organics recycling! The City picks up food scraps and other compostable items weekly. There is no extra cost to take part. The City of Minneapolis will deliver an organics recycling cart after you sign up.


You'll also receive a welcome kit in the mail that includes:
  • Organics home setup guide

  • Refrigerator magnet

  • Starter set of compostable bags





Additional Resources

Here are some resources if you'd like to get involved or take a deep dive into learning more:

Transitioning HERC is a Community Effort.

In our ongoing journey towards a healthier, more equitable future, there comes a time when we must take a stand for what truly matters: the well-being of our people and our planet. Today, I invite you to join us in standing with The People's HERC Transition Plan by implementing Zero Waste, reading the full transition plan, and educating each other about next steps.




1 Σχόλιο


Betty King
Betty King
08 Απρ

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