The Connection Between Zero Waste & The Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC)

All community members, especially children and the elderly, suffer when they breathe dirty air. For example, the link between air pollution and asthma is well documented.

But the health impacts of pollution are magnified among lower income people and in communities of color across the state, including North Minneapolis, whose residents have the highest rate of asthma-related hospitalizations in Minnesota.

North Minneapolis residents have been calling for the closure of the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC) trash incinerator for years. It is past its lifespan and should have been closed several years ago. Trash incineration is detrimental to our health and climate, producing 2.5% more fossil and living organic carbon pollution than coal plants.

In the next two years we have a unique opportunity to shut down the HERC.

This year, the county’s Environment and Energy Department is creating a Zero Waste Plan which will feed into its updated Solid Waste Management Plan in 2024.

County staff and commissioners are increasingly focused on racial and environmental justice. And community capacity has expanded with the launching of the Anti-Incinerator Working Group, a coalition of primarily BIPOC organizations and organizers. Sierra Club is a member.

Now is the time to make the transition to a state-leading zero waste model. 

To get involved in this work reach out to Mary at and to stay up to date on environmental justice campaigns in Minnesota sign-up here.