BlueGreen Alliance | Newly Signed Law Will Establish Critical Materials Recovery Advisory Task Force in Minnesota 

Newly Signed Law Will Establish Critical Materials Recovery Advisory Task Force in Minnesota 

May 22, 2024

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz today signed into law an omnibus environment bill that will establish a Critical Materials Recovery Advisory Task Force in the state to help bring recycling infrastructure and jobs to Minnesota. The task force will have the responsibility of determining emerging recycling technologies; evaluating recovery costs; and identifying needed infrastructure, end-of-life-management options for products, and ways to prevent the improper disposal of critical materials.

“Critical minerals are essential to a clean energy future, particularly for energy storage batteries, EV batteries, wind, and solar components and demand is expected to double by 2040,” said BlueGreen Alliance Minnesota Policy Organizer Abby Hornberger. “Bringing critical minerals recovery infrastructure to Minnesota would provide another source of high-road jobs and opportunities for workers around the state.”

The provision had broad support of labor unions and environmental groups, including the United Steelworkers (USW), Sierra Club, and Conservation Minnesota.

“We believe it is essential to mine, recover, and recycle the critical materials our country needs domestically,” said USW District 11 Rapid Response Coordinator Bob Ryan. “We need to ensure that the critical materials our country needs to make various products are obtained responsibly and continue to support good-paying, family-sustaining jobs into the future. This new law will help make that a reality.”

“Maximizing the recovery of critical materials from our end-of-life products is urgent to meet our goals of transforming systems towards a sustainable circular economy. Building collection and recycling infrastructure will reduce pollution and waste, provide new employment paths, and protect communities from environmental harm. This includes getting upstream with product design and development to make materials recovery easier. We look forward to a process that facilitates meaningful consultation with all stakeholders and prioritizes environmental stewardship,” said Margaret Levin, Sierra Club North Star Chapter State Director.

“This task force will serve an important role in helping to update our state’s inefficient waste systems,” said Conservation Minnesota Policy Director Nels Paulsen. “Minnesotans annually throw away millions of dollars of recyclable materials including hundreds of thousands of tons of critical materials that could be reused or recycled. The task force will help our state divert more materials that can be used to help achieve our 100% carbon free energy law and make Minnesota one step closer to our zero waste goals.”

“With the global economy now unmistakably transitioning toward clean low and zero-carbon technologies across a broad range of applications, there is both urgency and opportunity to begin addressing product end-of-life issues, including and especially the recovery of materials used throughout the clean energy economy,” said Margaret Cherne-Hendrick, Senior Lead, Innovation and Impact at Fresh Energy. “This task force will allow for broad perspectives to be heard from a diverse set of stakeholders as the state develops policies and programs to address these issues.”

The task force membership will include representatives from county solid waste associations, the University of Minnesota Natural Resources Research Institute, industrial and building trades unions, energy advocacy and environmental justice organizations, and more.

“The task force is a step forward to capturing both critical minerals and jobs in our state and we thank Rep. Kozlowski and Sen. Hauschild for championing this effort and Gov. Walz for signing this into law,” said Hornberger.