Organics and Recycling at Downtown Farmers Market

Organics and Recycling at Downtown Farmers Market

SPFM – Sustainability Corner Volume 1

Welcome to the first edition of the Saint Paul Farmers’ Market Sustainability Corner! Every month, we’ll cover activities at our markets that help make a positive impact on the environment. The sustainability program formally began this year at the Saint Paul Farmers’ Market, although many of the topics we’ll cover in this blog just shine a light on the environmentally friendly practices our growers and staff have been honing in for decades.

Let’s dive right in. You may have noticed some changes at our Downtown Saint Paul market this summer. Throughout the market season, we’ve been slowly phasing in a three-waste-stream bin system. With thousands of visitors each weekend, we knew it was time for our waste to get an upgrade. Thanks to some neighborly assistance from our friends at Saints Baseball, we now have access to properly dispose of organics, recycling, and trash. Later in this post, we’ll go over what each of these streams looks like at our downtown location.

What changed? In years past, our visitors only had access to the City’s recycling and trash bins. We now have five waste stations throughout the market. One at three corners and two in the middle. Each waste station has a bin for organics (compostables), recycling, and trash. Now that we have access to organics collection, our ready-to-eat food and beverage vendors have BPI certified compostable goods that they serve their customers with. 

Compostables/Organics/Food Scraps: 

First off, why does it have so many names? Organics collection is still a new practice and still isn’t completely widespread. Different parties may call it by a few of these different names. No matter what you call it, the process is the same. BPI certified compostables, paper, and food get turned back into healthy nutrient-rich soil called compost. Compost is used to produce some of our best produce and goods at the market!

What is collected in the green Saint Paul Farmers’ Market’s Organics bins?

Our ready to eat food vendors serve you sandwiches, dumplings, BBQ, steamed buns, and more in BPI Certified Products. When you’re finished licking your lips from their delicious food and drinks, please toss these items in the green bins!

In addition to our BPI compostable products, please put all food, paper towels, and napkins in the green bins! No plastic, coated paper, metal, or glass is allowed. If you bring outside containers in, please assure they are BPI Certified Compostable before tossing!


This one is a bit simpler. We use a blue bin, single-stream recycling method which means, cans, glass, cardboard and harder plastics all go in one bin. Things to look out for while recycling. 

If the item you have is covered in food, it shouldn’t be recycled. Look above to see if it is in a compostable container. 

Please try to empty out all liquids before tossing in the blue bins.

Please don’t recycle the compostable items – they’ll serve a much better purpose turning back into soil!

Aluminum cans, glass bottles, and plastic cups are all fine. (no plastic straws)

No coffee cups please. They are either compostable or trash.

No plastic bags or film.


When in doubt – toss it out. If something isn’t clearly compostable or recyclable, your safest option is to put it in the black trash bins. We get charged if there is contamination in the other two streams. We are constantly working to give you less items that are trash at the market. However, you may still have some trash with you from time to time. 

Final remarks. This three stream waste collection is still new and we’re fine-tuning it all the time. If you have any questions or suggestions please email Lindsay Anderson, the Sustainability Coordinator at 

Thanks for taking the time to learn about this! Next month’s post will cover our food recovery efforts that help feed our community. See you then!

Lindsay Anderson 

SPFM Sustainability

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