Stewards of the Earth
Each day at lunch, children in the Prior Lake Savage School district put their leftovers and their biodegradable paper products such as empty milk cartons, napkins, and thick cardboard pressed trays into a special bin. Twelve weeks later at the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility these materials have been transformed into usable compost, decomposed organic matter rich in nutrients which can be used as a soil amendment. Using best management practices and following both state and federal guidelines, staff foster an environment which converts these items along with potato peels, used casino playing cards, leaves, branches, and cucumbers from a nearby pickle plant with water to create compost.
Local haulers transport materials to the facility where they are added to the Slow Speed Grinder and mixed together following a science-based recipe that carefully blends carbon, nitrogen, and moisture. The output comes out on a conveyor and then front end loaders pick it up and creates the windrows. Then a KompTech Windrow Turner straddles the windrows and turns them about every three days. After about 12 weeks, the materials are then screened and ready for use.
Current major customers are local waste haulers who transport tons of Source Separated Organics (SSO) from the Prior Lake Savage School System and local food manufacturers. The site is open to the public for a fee.
The Organics Recycling Facility fosters positive intergovernmental relations because the SMSC is making it available at no charge to neighboring governments. Shakopee, Prior Lake, and Savage bring their leaves, brush, and other organic materials to the site, saving taxpayer dollars and promoting good will among neighbors.
Composting is considered environmentally friendly largely because it takes a product that in the past was considered waste and converts it to a useable, organic product. It’s an aerobic process meaning it utilizes oxygen to break down organic matter. This is in contrast to the anaerobic process in a landfill which buries waste in dirt, a process which produces methane, a primary gas contributing to global warming.
By composting organic materials less methane gas is produced. By composting locally, there are fewer emissions by trucks hauling the SSOs because they travel less distance and use less fuel; transportation costs for haulers are also reduced.
The wave of the future is for residents and businesses such as restaurants to separate out their organic materials (brush, leaves, and food waste) for their haulers to collect and deliver to a compost site. San Francisco and the Seattle area already require such separation. Minnesota banned yard waste from landfills more than two decades ago, requiring haulers to manage it separately.