A pick-up service that promises to collect hard-to-recycle items such as light bulbs, batteries and plastic bags has expanded to Minnesota.
Ridwell is now available in a few ZIP codes in south Minneapolis, according to a news release: 55405, 55406, 55407, 55408, 55409, 55417 and 55419. Every two weeks, its drivers will swing by subscribers' homes to collect certain household items and waste that city recycling services don't accept in the big blue bins.
In Minneapolis, that means plastic film (such as grocery bags, produce bags and mail shipping materials), household batteries, light bulbs and fabric (including shoes, clothing and textiles). Ridwell also offers rotating special categories — one pick-up day might include electronics, the next wine corks, and the one after that various towels and linens.
Subscribers, who pay $12-$16 a month, will get a metal bin and reusable canvas bags to sort these items. They can then be left outside for pick-up. (While subscribers are asked to pre-sort their recyclables at home, the company told Bring Me The News its team members sort through the items at their warehouses to ensure there aren't any incorrect, unrecyclable items in the bins.)
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The company also told Bring Me The News more than 500 people in Minneapolis became members since announcing its Twin Cities entrance on Jan. 18, 2022.
“Our reuse and recycling service supplements Minneapolis’ extensive waste reduction efforts and provides residents with a positive climate-friendly solution to help keep common household items from unnecessarily sent to the trash,” said Ridwell founder and CEO Ryan Metzger in the announcement.
Ridwell says it finds local partners that will reuse or recycle these items. Local partners in the Twin CIties include Loaves & Fishes, Bridging, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota, the Prop Shop and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity ReStore, according to Ridwell's website and the announcement.
Metzger launched Ridwell in 2018, after he couldn't figure out how to responsibly dispose of old batteries. Minneapolis will be the fourth city in which it currently operates. The others are Seattle, Portland and Denver, where combined Ridwell touts a member base of more than 50,000.
Some of the items Ridwell picks up can be recycled through store drop-off locations. Many Target, Cub Foods, Walmart and Lunds & Byerlys locations feature a large plastic film collection bin toward the front of the store, for example. Some county drop-off sites also take these types of items.
Ridwell says its service is a more convenient option for those who want to do the right thing.
Said Metzger: "We do the legwork so [members] can keep these materials out of the trash with confidence.”
And many people aren't even utilizing the existing recycling options.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's most recent recycling and waste scorecard makes clear that a significant amount of recyclable material is still making its way to landfills. Just 39.8% of food in the Twin Cities was recycled, for example — the rest was unnecessarily wasted. The capture rate for mixed plastic was just 10.4%.
Garbage in the metro has been piling up so quickly that the agency proposed expanding four nearby landfills to handle all the trash.
Ridwell says its goal is to divert "as much as possible" from landfills. The transparency section on its website shows it's not a 100% success rate. In Seattle, for example, the company says it managed to divert 97.9% of plastic film and 87.5% of Styrofoam. Clothing and other fabric materials was at 99%, while batteries was at 100%.
Ridwell's first pick-up day in Minneapolis was Jan. 24. The company says it will post its diversion statistics beginning in March.
The company plans to grow in the Twin Cities. Residents who want to know when the service is available in their ZIP code can sign up here.