Polk County Environmental Services is unveiling a residential Organics Composting Program this spring. The program will kick off in time for Earth Day on April 22.

Assistant Director of Environmental Services Jake Snyder said the county is offering compost start-up kits to the community as part of the kickoff. “At the Transfer Station and Incinerator, we’re going to be starting a separated organics residential program,” said Snyder. “We’re asking people interested in collecting food scraps and other waste in their households and group those a little different than their waste. We’re going to have starter kits available for those interested that have compostable bags and bids with a lid. We’re really just trying to seek people that are interested in our program to contact our office, and we’ll put out those free kits for a limited time only.”

The program is being started through a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). “We got a grant to start a residential organics collection program,” said Snyder. “What we’re looking to do is reuse that waste. Because it is compostable, it can go within our compost facility at the landfill. We’re trying to divert it from any of our facilities. Right now, our trash at the Transfer Station gets trucked over to the incinerator, where it gets processed, burned to turn into ashes, and then ultimately heads out to the landfill. If it’s all organic compostable materials, we take it to the landfill, and it gets composted at our compost pad out there.  For our incinerator facility, that waste isn’t going there, so it doesn’t need to get reprocessed, burned, and all of that. It’s really an overload at the incinerator, so we’re trying to divert some of that waste so it can get recycled and become compost.”

Composting will require organic certified bags and must be dropped off at the Transfer Station. “Those would be brought out to the Transfer Station just like you bring your normal bagged household garbage,” said Snyder. “We’ll have different bins out front designated for compostable residential organic waste only. They have to be in organic certified bags. The bags have to able to be broken down, and then they are collected very similarly to the trash we collect at our facility. It just has to go in a bin out front. And any information that people need, stop by the office and you can talk to somebody about the program and get more information on it.”

Currently, the MPCA permits for Polk County’s compost only allow the compost to be used at the landfill, but as the program matures, Snyder hopes to make the product available for other applications. “We can use it for different projects,” said Snyder. “Right now, we can use it within our landfill system. Our permits aren’t currently allowing us to sell it to somebody or source out the end product to residents. But it can get used. We do a lot of projects – (for example) our highway department uses our ash for highway projects – different things like that. We hope to be able to open that up and expand our permit with the MPCA to have that end goal to get it to residents or use it in our projects. We want to use it in an alternative source than just getting the dirt to be dirt and using it as cover on our landfill.”

Polk County is currently creating a waiting list for those interested in a starter kit. “Call the Transfer Station; we’ll get you on a waiting list,” said Snyder. “We’re going to be contacting everyone in a couple of weeks to come to get your starter kits. We hope to have it launched for Earth Day and have our bins out front for people to start dropping those off, and we’ll go from there. We’re hoping the program expands but will roll it out in mid-April and see how it goes. But the first initial starter kits are all free. You get bags and everything you need to start. You see how it works for your household. We hope people like it, and if they need anything else or more information, they can give us a call.”

Call 218-281-5700 for details on how to get a free starter kit. 

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