The R&E Center

Staff with the R&E Center’s electric yard truck
Staff with the R&E Center’s electric yard truck

About the R&E Center

Ramsey and Washington counties recognize that there is often value to the items that people put in the trash. R&E sees the waste stream as a resource stream. This resulted in the 2015 purchase of the Recycling & Energy Center (R&E Center), located in Newport, Minnesota. All trash generated by individuals and businesses in the two counties is delivered here, where R&E works to recover value.

The R&E Center manages roughly 450,000 tons of trash per year. At the R&E Center, trash is processed to recover recyclable metals and make fuel for producing electricity. Through this system, R&E is maximizing the recovery of resources and diverting as much as possible from landfills. The R&E Center is the only facility of its kind in the state, and, in 2023, nearly 90% of waste in the two counties was diverted from landfills.

When trash arrives at the R&E Center, it is tipped on a floor the size of a football field. Conveyor belts carry the material through a series of shredders, screens, and magnets that recover recyclable metals from the trash and process the remaining material into a fuel source (called refuse-derived fuel) that is used in Xcel power plants in Red Wing and Mankato to generate electricity. The R&E Center processes over 1,000 tons of trash each day, enough to cover a football field six feet deep.

In 2023: 

  • Fuel produced at the R&E Center and delivered to Xcel power plants produced enough electricity to power 13,450 homes for a year.
  • 13,029 tons of metal were recovered from the trash for recycling.
  • 99,500 fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide were produced than if the trash had been landfilled – equivalent to taking 22,142 gasoline-powered cars off the road for a year.