Big Challenge. Mini Solution.

Tiny Trash Can


The Hennepin County Government Center was facing the following challenges:

  • Their recycling rate was at 38%. The 2012 Solid Waste Management Master Plan had set a recycling goal of 60% to be achieved by 2030
  • Employees were responsible for emptying the recycling bins under their desks which often overflowed into the waste bins. The custodial team emptied the waste bins every 2 days so all overflowing recycling was being collected along with the trash


The CleanRiver Mini Bin program was rolled out to 3,000 employees at the Hennepin County Government Center to empower them to recycle more waste.

  • Desk side waste bins were removed and replaced with the 5” desk top CleanRiver Mini Bins
  • The restrictive size of the CleanRiver Mini Bin challenged employees to think before they tossed an item into the garbage and consider whether it could be recycled instead
  • Employees were tasked with emptying their CleanRiver Mini Bin and their desk side recycling bin into centrally located waste containers on each floor
  • The central location recycling empowered employees to take ownership of the waste they generated because they were ultimately responsible for putting it into the central trash or recycling containers for disposal


Behaviour Change

  • Ben Knudson from Hennepin County’s Environment and Energy Department reports there was initial resistance to the program “Employees were concerned that the Mini Bin was just too small.” This is a common initial response to the Mini Bin program however people soon realize that by sorting their waste effectively they really do only generate enough landfill waste in a week for one Mini Bin
  • Hennepin County produced a flyer that outlined all the positives of the program and how it would help them achieve their recycling goals. It also mentioned how it would help employees get a little more exercise into their day by walking to the central location bins so it would benefit the environment and their health
  • Ben Knudson says that employees have now embraced the program and reports that they have increased their recycling tons by 20%

ROI – financial and social


Cost Savings

Program Investment


Savings on Waste Bin Liners


Waste Hauling Savings


Custodial Fees

Reallocated service



$9,500 per year

Payback period = $28,000/$9,500 = 3 years


  • Savings of $7,000/year on waste bin liners
  • Savings of $2,500/year on waste hauling costs due to less waste being collected
  • Significant reductions in custodial servicing time from central location containers. The custodial team no longer service 3,000 desk side containers every other day. The labor time has been reallocated to additional cleaning or other custodial duties
  • Employees feel good that they are directly contributing to diverting more waste from landfill

To learn how the CleanRiver Mini Bin program can help you recycle more and save money, call us at 1 (888) 646-4246 or email


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