Over the course of several years, the city of Red Wing and Goodhue County have been working with the state to implement an ordinance pertaining to waste disposal designation.
The entities have been working on a designation plan and designation ordinance in the county, meaning that all mixed municipal solid waste – the garbage that haulers pick up from houses and businesses – would be delivered to the Red Wing Solid Waste Campus.
In doing so, the city and county had to meet multiple requirements and work toward the state's goals in the waste management hierarchy goals.
A few months ago, the Bench Street landfill was officially closed and placed into the hands of the state. This took liability off of the city and the county.
That landfill entering the Closed Landfill Program was one piece to this larger process of implementing this new ordinance.
Once the designation ordinance was placed into effect, three waste haulers that operate within the county challenged the ordinance.
The local haulers that filed a challenge against the ordinance were PIG, Countryside Disposal and Flom Disposal.
During the first challenge, the United States District Court of Minnesota ruled in favor of the city of Red Wing and Goodhue County and the case was dismissed with prejudice at the end of 2021.
“It was appealed to the 8th Circuit Appeals Court…the 8th Circuit Court affirmed the lower court's ruling in May of 2022,” Deputy Director of Solid Waste Jeff Schneider said.
The Plaintiffs then filed a request to the Supreme Court of the United States that ordered a lower court to send the case up for review.
In October of this year, the Supreme Court rejected the petition.
“One of the last options was for them to petition the Supreme Court to take a look at your case,” Schneider said.
“If it was overturned at the Supreme Court, it would have had implications across the United States really,” he continued.
The ordinance in the county is in full effect, haulers that pick up waste in the county must deliver to the city’s waste campus.
“The ordinance has always been in effect even when it was challenged back in 2020. There was no injunction to put it on hold,” Schneider said.
Many surrounding counties were paying close attention to this case.
“Many people knew that if it got ripped up here then it would set foundations for it to get ripped up elsewhere,” Schneider said.
Other counties have similar ordinances in place that require haulers to bring waste to a specified location. Individual haulers still have contracts with cities and counties, but if there is an ordinance in place haulers have to bring waste to the specified places regardless of contracts.
The purpose of creating an ordinance such as this one is to help the state reach goals toward “reduce, reuse and recycling” as well as abating the need for and the use of land disposal.