A Composting Tale of Science, Partnerships, and Education

December 23, 2021

Now that the holiday season has come and gone and the Christmas trees have been properly recycled, what’s next for the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility? Well, the passionate staff have been busy planning for the new year. This includes partnering with other like-minded organizations and searching for more ways they can expand their mission to further research, expand education and outreach, and influence legislation while continuing to be good stewards of the earth.

The SMSC Organics Recycling Facility is a proud member of the Minnesota Composting Council (MNCC), a chapter of the United States Composting Council (USCC). In January 2013, the MNCC was granted nonprofit status with the state of Minnesota, and officially became the Minnesota Chapter of the USCC by December 2013. As the Minnesota affiliate of the USCC, the state chapter is dedicated to the development, expansion, and promotion of the composting industry. The goal of MNCC is to bring economic viability, science, and principles of sustainability together. The mission of the organization is to:

  • Provide encouraging and guiding research.
  • Promote best management practices.
  • Establish industry standards.
  • Educate professionals and the public.
  • Enhance product quality and expand markets.

Members of the MNCC and USCC are making huge strides as they encourage generators of organic residues, legislators, corporations, composters, and the everyday consumers to work together to attain this mission, and day by day, additional efforts are made to meet these goals.

After receiving grant funding in 2018, the MNCC really started tackling education and outreach. The organization started hosting more events, workshops, and training on topics like commercial organics and how to be a compost operator. Plate to Garden Compost events were held throughout Minnesota and International Compost Awareness Week, typically held the first week in May, were widely promoted. As awareness grew, the MNCC started flexing its legislative influence with activities, ​such as supporting the Governor’s Bonding Bill to help fund and increase composting capacity. The council also opposed the auxiliary container bills.

The MNCC has also worked to drive the compost industry forward by mailing letters to manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to help with confusing or misleading labels or products. Currently, the MNCC works closely with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), partnering to develop opportunities to expand compost use in road projects. MNCC has also partnered with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) to educate composters on how to manage invasive species and noxious weeds.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility created a virtual tour for the online annual USCC conference. The video showcases the property, the composting process, and the everyday ins and outs of the facility. As one of the largest composting facilities in the state of Minnesota, it makes perfect sense to have Dustin Montey, the assistant manager of the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility, as one of MNCC’s board members. Montey has worked with the SMSC for nearly 10 years, managing compost operations, colored mulch production, off-site wood grinding, sales, and delivery of products. In his position, Montey has coordinated the production and sale of hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of compost to residential and commercial customers. Erin Skelly, the SMSC Organic Recycling Facility’s environmental and compliance technician, currently serves on the MNCC’s market development committee.

Today, there are 13 state chapters that work hard to advance their local composting industry alongside national advocacy and programming. These chapters offer on-the-ground education, attention to state regulations and legislation, and are building relationships and networks of people in the industry.

Later this month, the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility staff is heading out to the USCC’s largest event, the annual Compost 2022 Conference and Tradeshow, held in person this year in Austin, Texas. This conference and tradeshow are all about learning advances in compost manufacturing, compost utilization, and organics recycling that benefits the environment. This conference is a great opportunity to meet with companies and community representatives committed to composting, compost use, and organics management with the best regenerative practices and new hybrid approaches.

Interested in learning more? The MNCC offers free webinars on composting, or become a member and help the MNCC and the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility continue their efforts to expand and support the composting industry in Minnesota!