As the ground begins to thaw and the temperature starts to rise, it’s time to start planning your summer home improvement projects and there’s no better way to increase the curb appeal of your house than to add a vibrant mulch to your landscaping. Here at the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility, our high-quality organic mulch is available in four stunning colors: dark brown, red, gold, and natural to complement any yard. We take pride in our products and the process it takes to create them. But how exactly do we make these beautiful mulches, you ask? For starters, we gather our wood from off-site grinding sites and municipal wood sites that residents use to drop off brush and wood waste. Once these sites get full, our mobile grinding operation grinds the wood at these sites and hauls it back to the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility for the next step in our process. After arriving back at the facility, the wood is put through a screener, which helps remove any excess dirt and wood fines. Once the wood has been screened, it’s put through a grinder once again to produce our double-ground, high-quality natural mulch. Grinding the wood twice is an…
READ MORE

Many people wonder what happens to compost piles in the winter. Your backyard compost pile will likely freeze and wait until spring to resume decomposition. However, this is not true for large-scale composting. Material at the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility composts right through the winter, even during the coldest and snowiest days Minnesota has to offer. Food waste and yard waste arrive at the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility year-round. Luckily, our staff have several strategies they use to continue composting material even when the temperatures drop. The biggest factor that helps compost piles generate and retain heat is the size of the pile. Since the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility composts in large windrows, these piles keep their heat very well. Our windrows are usually 10 feet tall, but in the winter we may make them slightly larger to retain more heat. Generally, the outer few inches of the compost pile will freeze and form a frozen crust over the pile. However, the inside of the pile stays very well-insulated. We routinely see temperatures in the piles between 130°F and 160°F throughout the winter. Another way we help the windrows retain heat in the winter is by adjusting the compost recipe….
READ MORE

The winter months can bring challenges to eco-friendly living due to the cold temperatures. Although you may not be able to harvest a full vegetable garden or air-dry your laundry in the backyard, there are a number of sustainable activities you can implement during the winter season to maintain a minimal carbon footprint. 1. Continue Composting Keep your waste output low by continuing to compost throughout the winter months. The idea of composting in the winter doesn’t have to be something to dread! Avoid the cold and keep your toes warm by placing a small composting bin outside your back door that’s easily accessible. Since the temperatures are low, the compost will freeze and remove odors! 2. Clean Green The way you clean and the products you use to clean your house can significantly impact your carbon footprint. Try to use less cleaning product or use green cleaning products paired with 100% recyclable cloths or paper towels. When doing laundry, refrain from doing multiple small loads and maximize each load by filling to its capacity—this will help save water and energy! 3. Use Nontoxic De-Icing Products Though using a de-icing product is a quick and easy way to remove ice…
READ MORE

Where do all those Christmas trees go after December 25? Already dreading the pine needles that will be falling abundantly from your once lively—and beautifully decorated—Christmas tree toward the end of December? Sounds like you need a game plan for ditching the tree before your living room, and the rest of the house, are covered in those prickly little needles, which, you have to admit are a pain—quite literally—to get rid of. You’re in luck! The SMSC Organics Recycling Facility is gearing up for the annual Christmas Tree Drop-Off program. Bring your tree to the Organics Recycling Facility, where it will be repurposed into mulch, compost, and other useful products in an earth-friendly manner. Your tree must be free of all non-compostable decorations, tinsel, and flocking before being dropped off—for FREE!  Trees will be accepted during the facility’s normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm), between December 26 and January 31. Why should you recycle your tree? Here are several reasons you might consider dropping your tree off at the Organics Recycling Facility: It will be repurposed into a useable product. It’s a great place to dispose of Christmas trees, as they are not able to be brought to a landfill. It…
READ MORE

Tell your family, tell your friends, we want your pumpkins after Halloween ends! When the Halloween celebrations have concluded, and the trick-or-treaters have run your candy stash dry, it is time to start thinking about what to do with your festive décor. After receiving comments from area residents, the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility is excited to offer a free pumpkin recycling program to the public for the first time. The program will allow residents to drop off their old pumpkins free of charge to compost them into a rich soil amendment. November 1 through 9, residents can drop off their pumpkins during the facility’s normal business hours Monday through Saturday. Pumpkins will only be accepted if they are free of decorations and candles as these items often contain metal, so be sure to remove those items beforehand! So, why is it so important to properly recycle your pumpkins? Each year, billions of pumpkins get tossed into landfills and are often submerged under multiple layers of waste. When this happens, the pumpkins don’t have access to oxygen, making it very difficult for them to decompose correctly. This often results in the production of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that can be…
READ MORE

October 1, 2019

Most people are aware that composting is a good thing to do, but not as many people know why that is. Let’s explore the benefits of composting. Before diving into the benefits, let’s start by defining compost: Compost is organic material that decomposes into a rich soil amendment. Anything organic can be put into a compost pile to decompose. This includes items like fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, fur, hair, bones, paper, napkins, leaves, grass, and brush, to name just a few examples. Our rule of thumb? If it was once living, it’s compostable. That being said, what benefits of composting come to mind? Perhaps the most common benefit that comes to mind is the breakdown of material that may otherwise end up in a landfill, and that’s a fantastic benefit! When we throw yard and food waste into the trash, it decomposes in a landfill and releases methane gas—a potent greenhouse gas. While most landfills have technology to capture much of this methane, eliminating the gas at its source is even better. Another advantage to composting is the conservation of resources. Here are a few examples: Water: Compost helps soak up water, slowly releasing it to plants. With enough compost…
READ MORE

How’s your yard looking these days? Do you have a buildup of yard waste slowly but surely taking over? If neighbor Sue’s yard is looking pristine and you’re ready to show her what you’ve got, it’s time to take action! Grab your spouse, kids, friends… heck, even recruit neighbor Sue to help clean up the yard! Once your yard is the cleanest on the block—that’s right, nothing wrong with a little friendly (OK, we’ll say it… eco-friendly) competition—you can get rid of the waste, FOR FREE, at the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility during our fall yard waste drop-off program. Running every Sunday from 8am-2pm in September and October, all Scott County residents and SMSC employees/team members are welcome to participate. Be sure to bring your ID or badge when you drop off. What you can ditch for free: Brush Leaves Stumps Source-separated organics (food waste) Wondering what happens to your old waste? You guessed it—it’s recycled! We take what would otherwise be tossed into landfills and craft nutrient-rich, natural compost, compost blends, and mulch for gardening, farming, landscaping, and more. Our Dakotah Roots products are available for retail and wholesale, so there’s a good chance that you’ll be seeing that…
READ MORE

August 1, 2019

Looking to reduce your carbon footprint? Composting is a simple and effective way to do so! From decreasing landfill waste to improving air quality, it’s clear that composting provides a variety of environmental benefits. So, how can you determine what items will make for successful composting? Simply put, anything that is created from organic material can be composted. Since the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility serves as a large-scale composting facility, we are able to compost more products than your average backyard composting project. Below is a breakdown of a few items that either can or cannot be donated to the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility for composting purposes. Material Accepted: -Yard waste -Meat and fish Bones, scales, and shells -Dairy products Yogurt and cheese -Produce food scraps Peelings, pits, and shells -Coffee grounds -Wood shavings or saw dust (from untreated wood) -Bakery and dry goods Pasta, beans, rice, bread, cereal, nuts, shells, and dough -Herbivore pet bedding -Delivery pizza boxes Material Not Accepted: -Refrigerated and frozen food boxes Though these boxes may be made of cardboard, they have a waxy, plastic-like coating on them that does not breakdown in the composting process. -Pet waste Pet waste can carry harmful parasites and…
READ MORE

To mulch or not to mulch? That is the question! For those who love to garden, it’s time to roll up those sleeves and get your hands dirty with some good, old-fashioned summer gardening tips. Spoil your soil. Nothing will hinder plant growth more than poor soil—in order for your veggies to flourish, you need to focus on providing them with the most nutrient-dense soil possible. Take care not to compact the soil too much, and add in a nutrient-rich soil amendments like compost. The SMSC Organics Recycling Facility offers some excellent options for compost and compost blends! Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch helps blanket the soil in your garden, shielding plants from too much sun and preventing moisture loss from evaporation. We recommend spreading a 2-inch-deep layer of mulch near your plants or veggies. Here at the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility, we have several different colors of mulch to choose from! (Are you sensing a trend yet?) Control the weeds. The summer heat doesn’t discriminate when it comes to enabling plant growth, and many types of weeds can go from tiny to gigantic in a short period of time. Weeds steal vital nutrients and moisture from your plants and vegetables,…
READ MORE

While composting provides a variety benefits to the environment, the process of making compost can sometimes release unpleasant odors. These odors are a mix of dilute, invisible, gaseous compounds that can range from virtually unnoticeable to strong depending on feedstocks and management. Though the odors can sometimes be unpleasant, they are never toxic. So what causes these odors anyways? Compost is a rich soil amendment that is created during the process of organic material being broken down. This is a natural process called decomposition. Decomposition begins when feedstocks, water, and oxygen are combined. Tiny microorganisms then consume the feedstocks and give off water, carbon dioxide, and heat as a byproduct. This process can happen either aerobically, with air, or anaerobically, without air. Though material can still decompose without air through anaerobic respiration, it is not as successful as aerobic respiration and can also release some unpleasant odors. Compost is at risk of “going anaerobic” if the water content is above 65 percent or if the compost pile sizes are too large. This type of respiration will also produce sulfur compounds, which give off a rotten egg smell. Proper composting will go through aerobic respiration. In this process, carbohydrates are broken…
READ MORE