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Public welcome at Organic Recycling Facility open house

The public is invited to attend an open house at the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s Organics Recycling Facility on October 13, 2012, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The SMSC Organics Recycling Facility, located on trust land off County Road 83, opened to the public in the fall of 2011.

At the site, organic materials are mixed together to create compost. Organic materials include yard and food waste, woody debris, and biodegradeable paper products such as cardboard which are transported to the ORF. Using best management practices and following both state and federal guidelines, staff foster an environment where microbes break down the materials naturally. After several weeks these materials have been transformed into usable compost, decomposed organic matter rich in nutrients which can be used as a soil amendment.

Other items that qualify as organics and can be recycled at the ORF are things like facial tissue, paper towels, pizza boxes, brown bags, pencil shavings, untreated wood and cloth scraps.

Though the site opened in the fall of 2011, landscaping is still underway. The site will eventually be transformed into a landscaping demonstration area to include hundreds of additional seedlings, storm water ponds, and green space. A demonstration area will show the difference between crops grown with and without compost as a soil amendment. Compost is available for retail sale at the site. At this innovative site, during the summer of 2012 a total of 144 solar panels were added to the roof to generate electricity for use at the site and to sell on the grid.

School Children Recycling Paper, Other Products
Each day at lunch, children in the Prior Lake Savage School district carefully pick through their leftovers from lunch and sort out the food waste and biodegradable paper products into a special bin. Empty milk cartons, napkins and thick cardboard pressed trays are collected along with the food waste. These are then hauled to the nearby SMSC Organics Recycling Facility where there they are mixed with leaves, branches, used chopped up casino playing cards, water, cucumbers and potatoes from nearby processing facilities.

Dr. Sue Ann Gruver, Superintendent of the Prior Lake-Savage Area School District 719, talked about the new organics recycling program. “All of our schools still recycle paper, plastic, and aluminum, as in past years, but we now have added organics to our recycling efforts. With this addition, we hope to divert at least 80 percent of our trash from landfills.”

She continued, “Adding organics to our recycling efforts fits with our district’s mission to be responsible stewards of finances and natural resources. Diverting organics to a composting facility will eventually reduce our cost by about two-thirds versus sending that same material to the landfill.”

Recycling organics means recycling things like food scraps and milk cartons, but it extends beyond the lunch room to items like facial tissue, paper towels, pizza boxes, brown bags, pencil shavings, untreated wood and cloth scraps.

“It really comes down to dedicated students and staff who took charge on the first day of school and committed to expanding our recycling program and even helping contain costs district wide,” Gruver added.

Environmental Benefits
Manure is composted and managed separately which allows for use on organic lands such as the Wozupi, the Community’s certified organic garden.

Composting is considered environmentally friendly largely because it takes a product that in the past was buried in landfills and converts it to a useable, organic product. It is 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 bring 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 but nearly all food waste is still buried in landfills. Haulers collect and dispose of yard waste separately already so adding food waste and other organics could easily be added to the process.

A possible future development at the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility would be to add anaerobic digestion of organic waste, primarily food, into an enclosed controlled environment where the oxygen would be removed and methane collected for energy. This methane could be used to run a generator or liquefied to run in vehicles.

The address for the Organics Recycling Facility is 1905 Canterbury Road, Shakopee, Minnesota 55379. The ORF is usually open 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday but will be open on Saturday, October 13, for the Open House. For more information, the ORF Scale House can be reached at 952-403-7030.

Organics Recycling Facility Open House Schedule
Saturday, October 13, 2012
11:00 a.m. Organics Recycling Facility open to the public. Presentations and information available for viewing in the Shop until 3:00 p.m. Complimentary beverages and snacks.

11:05 a.m. Organics Recycling Facility from A to Z. Bus tour of the entire facility beginning with the scale and ending with final products. Approximately 30 minutes.

11:40 a.m. Demonstration: Bus Tour to view the windrow turner. Approximately 10 minutes.

12:00 p.m. Demonstration: Bus Tour to view screening of material to produce a finished compost product. Approximately 10 minutes.

12:30 p.m. Demonstration: Bus Tour to view screening of material to produce a finished compost product. See description above. Approximately 10 minutes.

1:10 p.m. Demonstration: Bus tour to view grinding of material. Approximately 10 minutes.

1:40 p.m. Demonstration: Bus tour to view grinding of material. Approximately 10 minutes.

2:15 p.m. Demonstration: Bus Tour to view the windrow turner in operation. Approximately 10 minutes.

2:30 p.m. Organics Recycling Facility from A to Z. Bus Tour of the entire facility beginning with the scale and ending with our products. Approximately 30 minutes.

3:00 p.m. Open House Ends

Descriptions of Demonstrations
Windrow Turner: View the windrow turner operating in a composting windrow; turning mixes and aerates material for optimal composting conditions.
Screening Material: ORF staff screen compost after approximately 12 weeks. Screening separates material into four parts: (1) fine material that is suitable for sale as finished compost; (2) medium materials that is mixed with incoming loads to be re-composted; (3) coarse materials that are hand-sorted to remove non-compostables such as trash and rocks and then re-composted; and, (4) light trash such as plastic that is sucked from the material.
Grinding:  Grinding is used to reduce particle size, mix material, and to create a flat spot in round fruit and vegetables. Round pieces of fruit and vegetables roll off our piles where they could create odors and attract insects.

By the Numbers
-July 6, 2011, construction began on the new facility
-September 6, 2011, the site accepted its first load: from Dick’s Sanitation which brought first load ever from the Prior Lake Savage School System
-140-160 degrees inside a windrow for weeks at a time
-about 12 weeks to become compost
- Utilizes 25-acres on a 47-acre site.
-400,000 yards annual onsite capacity
-100,000 yards capacity at any one time
-Open 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday

The Process
-Customers use the asphalt road to enter the site at the scale house where their materials are inspected and weighed.
-Customers are directed to the appropriate Tipping Area to dump materials (brush/logs, leaves, sod, food residuals) or loading areas to purchase compost.
-The outgoing vehicle is weighed and the amount tipped or picked up recorded and the fee is collected
-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 perform the work to turn organic materials into compost and they generate the heat in composting.
-Each windrow is turned about 30 times over a 12-week period, depending on conditions within the windrow.
-Finished compost is screened to 3/8 inches, cured, and available for sale.

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