Ramsey/Washington Recycling & Energy (R&E) is continually expanding its efforts to minimize waste generated in the community, while recovering value from waste that arrives at the R&E Center. Through R&E, the counties are increasing investments in waste reduction, reuse and recycling. Examples include:

  • Expanding work on food waste reduction, recovery and recycling
  • Supporting recycling in apartment buildings and schools
  • Assisting businesses such as dry cleaners and auto body shops transition to safer chemicals and processes
  • Working with the community to encourage reuse of materials

With a focus on recovering value from waste and opportunities presented by new technology, the counties’ plans also include upgrading the Recycling & Energy Center:

  • R&E and the counties are rolling out a program to collect food scraps from residents. Visit the food scraps pickup program website for more information about the program. 
  • Despite strong efforts to increase recycling in homes and businesses, a large number of recyclables remain in the trash. The R&E Center plans to add equipment to recover high-value recyclables such as metals, certain plastics and cardboard from the trash. This will add to, not replace, household and business recycling. Recycling at home and work is always the preferred way to recycle – materials are cleaner and more easily recycled when separated at the source.
  • Research is under way to partner with private industry to utilize new technologies, such as anaerobic digestion, to recover value from waste byproducts from the R&E Center.


When Ramsey and Washington counties were considering purchase of the Recycling & Energy Center, they focused on how the facility could best serve as part of an effective solid waste management system well into the future. In doing so, they adopted the following guiding principles for design of the waste and recycling system:

  • Plan for a 20-30 year horizon
  • Build on the current system and allow changes in processing to emerge over time
  • Assure flexibility
  • Manage risks
  • Pivot the view from “waste” to “resources” to add value to the local economy and environment

Considerable research and evaluation has shaped the development of the R&E waste management system: