Shakopee mdewakanton sioux community



Community Members

Organics Recycling Facility

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.

By the Numbers:
  • July 6, 2011, construction began on the new facility
  • September 6, 2011 Dick’s Sanitation which brought first load ever from the Prior Lake Savage School System
  • Temperatures are steady between 140-160 degrees inside a windrow for weeks at a time
  • About 12 weeks to become compost
  • 400,000 yards annual onsite capacity
  • 100,000 yards capacity at any one time
  • Open weekdays and some Saturdays
The Process
  • Customers use the all weather road to enter the site at the Scale house where their materials are inspected and weighed.
  • In some cases, a fee is collected.
  • Customers are  directed to a Tipping Area to dump their materials, (brush/logs, leaves, sod, food waste)
  • Materials are chopped up in a large grinder and mixed with other materials following a “recipe” of carbon, nitrogen, and water.
  • Materials are formed into a windrow which generates an internal temperature of 140-160 degrees for weeks at a time.
  • Microbes within the materials being composted generate the heat in composting. 
  • Each windrow is turned about 30 times over a 12 week period.
  • Finished compost is screened to 3/8 inches and available for use or sale.
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