Local Schools and Governments Invited to Participate in New Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Enterprise

The Organics Recycling Facility


Prior Lake, MN – This summer the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community will open an Organics Recycling Facility at a site west of McKenna Road, east of County Road 83, and south of County Road 16 on SMSC trust land. The site will process leaves, grass, brush, straw, and food waste to create compost, an important organic soil amendment. Primary access will be from County Road 83. The site will be open to commercial and residential customers including landscapers, homeowners, and commercial haulers for a small fee based on the weight of the load. The Community offers free disposal of organic material to Prior Lake and Savage city governments and Shakopee may partner with SMSC in the near future. The site is staffed weekdays from 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

“This new Organics Recycling Facility fits in nicely with our philosophy as Dakota people of taking care of the environment,” said SMSC Chairman Stanley R. Crooks.

The new site will accept any organic material such as leaves, brush, grass clippings, sod, and other yard waste for organic recycling. The site does not accept root wads, tree stumps, and branches larger than eight inches in diameter, building lumber, soil, or compost materials in plastic bags of any type. For the first time commercial food waste will be accepted.

SMSC began composting years ago on a small scale. The Community manages greenhouses, an organic garden, The Meadows at Mystic Lake, and landscaping departments which generate tons of materials suitable for organics recycling.

Composting provides important environmental benefits. Space for landfills is limited, and any diversion of waste from landfills to other processes like composting prolongs the life of landfills. Furthermore, organic materials generate methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, when they are buried in landfills. Methane is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Good plant growth requires organic material that compost provides.

SMSC opened their existing Composting Facility to the public in April 2011 and this will continue when the new site opens. Customers include sanitation companies, landscapers, and private citizens. The City of Prior Lake and Savage collect residential yard waste from their residents and transport it to the SMSC site as well. In previous years, residents of the City of Prior Lake brought their yard waste directly to the SMSC site; this process changed for 2011. Other neighboring governments, including Shakopee and Burnsville, have also been invited to participate at no charge in the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility.

Finished compost is available for sale to the public for $12 a cubic yard by calling the SMSC Land Department at 952-496-6136.

Contractor Selected

The new Organics Recycling Facility will be developed on 17 acres set aside for the project. In early June 2011 the project went out for bids, both for grading and development of the site itself and for construction of an office building. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of summer 2011. The existing site at the corner of County Roads 42 and 83 will be phased out and the new site phased in over the course of the summer.

Northwest Asphalt of Shakopee, Minnesota, has been selected as the contractor for the multi-million dollar project. Some of the previous projects they have done for the SMSC include the new amphitheater, the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel MLCH Lift Station Elimination project, and the South Metro Federal Credit Union Parking Lot.

Northwest Asphalt, Inc. is currently owned and operated by the brother/sister partnership of Mike Pfeiffer and Debby Hendrickson. The Pfeiffer families experience dates back three generations with a long and rich family history in construction beginning with the partnership of their Grandfather Mike Pfeiffer and his three brothers in the late 1920s. Northwest Asphalt has since grown to become one of the Twin Cities largest commercial contractors, providing paving, excavating, sewer, and water work.

Food Scraps

When organic material such as yard and food wastes are buried in landfills, decomposition in the absence of air generates methane gas, which is approximately 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Methane is the major component of natural gas used for fuel.

The Minnesota legislature recognized these things when they banned yard waste from landfills in 1992. Many cities in Canada and the U.S. have also banned food waste from landfills. There are very few sites in Minnesota that can accept food waste on a commercial scale, and this site will have an added benefit of providing service to the southwest Twin Cities Metro area, thus saving fuel and lessening truck traffic and wear and tear on public roadways.

Mystic Lake Casino and Hotel generate approximately nine tons a day of food waste and this organic wastes are expected to divert to the Organic Recycling Facility. In addition, the Prior Lake Savage Schools have committed to utilize the site next fall as an alternative to transporting it north of the cities for use as pig fodder. With the diversion to the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility, the PLS School System will not only reduce their costs but also simplify their process since they will no longer have to separate out items that pigs can’t eat, such as grease, paper. Other savings include cheaper transportation costs, fewer emissions from the 50+mile journey (one-way), and wear and tear on roads, will all be significantly reduced.

“It’s cheaper than landfilling by far for the school system,” said SMSC Land and Natural Resources Director Stan Ellison. “Plus it will reduce truck traffic and the ensuing emissions.”

“Prevailing winds are northwest and southwest at the site, so the vast majority of winds come from westerly direction. Thus odor from the facility should not be an issue. It will have an organic, dirt smell as opposed to the smell of manure spread on fields or rotting produce as is experienced in some areas,” Ellison continued. “We will use a windrow operation rather than static piles. We will meet or exceed all existing state and federal laws regarding organics processing. Staff will use state-of-the-science methods to insure proper site management.”

“There will also be an organic stream in the facility so that organic compost can be created and used for Mdewakanton Wozupi, the tribe’s organic garden, now in its second growing season. We will work with local dairy farmers to obtain compost and manure for our organic compost product,” he said.

Future of the Site

Potential future developments at the Organics Recycling Campus include the use of anaerobic digestion to draw off the methane gas to burn to generate power. This power could be sold to the grid or used for the SMSC directly. Bagging compost and selling it commercially is a possible option as well as biomass processing in the form of chipping wood and drying it for use as fuel for Koda Energy.

As a steward of the land, the SMSC engages in a number of restoration activities to preserve and protect the land for future generations. For more information, visit http://www.shakopeedakota.org.

Questions from local residents and businesses about the facilities including fees should be directed to the SMSC Land and Natural Resources Department at 952-496-6153 (Mike Whitt) or 952-496-6136 (Nina Hatling).


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