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Black voters in battleground states are a crucial voting bloc in 2024; Nikki Haley says she's voting for Trump in November; healthcare advocates suggest medical collaboration to treat fibroids; distinct vibes at IU Indianapolis pro-Palestinian protest.

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The House GOP moves to strike mention of Trump's criminal trial from the record, and his former rival Nikki Haley endorses him. Meanwhile, Ohio Republicans reject a legislative fix to ensure Biden's name appears on the November ballot.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

MN plan would overhaul its recycling approach

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Tuesday, April 9, 2024   

Minnesota ranks high for its recycling rate, but it still has a waste problem, putting more pressure on local governments.

A plan in the Legislature aims to incentivize more product makers to adapt.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says in an e-commerce world, packaging materials and printed paper now account for 40% of the state's waste stream. And it's expected to grow. But local facilities aren't equipped to sort and recycle all the latest products sent their way.

The World Wildlife Fund is among those encouraging the state to create a program where companies that produce these materials would pay a fee. Erin Simon, WWF's vice president and head of plastic waste and business, predicts it would help in a big way.

"It pays for the right technology to separate and process those materials into really high-quality recycled content," Simon said.

Supporters say shifting the cost burden also incentivizes producers to use materials that are easier to recycle to begin with. An advisory board would be created to oversee the transition.

Four other states are launching similar programs. The Minnesota bill has cleared the committee stage, but it has skeptics, including those worried about market disruptions within the current waste and recycling system.

These initiatives are referred to as Extended Producer Responsibility programs, and Simon argues spurring more adoption among government agencies can help stop waste from entering landfills and hurting ecosystems.

"Today, we have so much plastic waste entering nature - 10 million metric tons a year," she noted. "And for us, that is about negative impacts on species. And so, we really need to see [this] sort of holistic change."

According to state data, in 2022, only 45% of household and commercial waste in Minnesota was recycled. Backers of these plans also say it would benefit human health, especially those living near waste incinerators, while potentially reducing the tax and fee burden on residents.

Disclosure: World Wildlife Fund contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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