The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 21, 2014

Rule changes may make room for more composting

Good Thunder facility proof of composting growth

State regulators have proposed adding a new category to the state’s composting rules to include organic material such as food and yard debris that is separated from other waste before it reaches a composting facility.

The change would modernize the rules that govern large-scale composting facilities in Minnesota. If approved by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, it would add a specific compost category for facilities that accept source-separated organics and make it easier for others to open around Minnesota.

Although about 40 percent of the garbage Minnesotans throw away is organic and compostable, the state captures only about 4 percent of the waste through organics recycling. Tim Farnan, an organics and recycling specialist for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, said the new rule could help meet a state goal of capturing up to 15 percent by 2030.

It would be the first change to the state’s composting rules in more than two decades and set standards that are more strict than the existing rules for yard waste facilities but less strict than municipal solid waste facilities, Farnan said.

“Current facilities would have an opportunity to store material in different ways and to move composting material off their pad that has stormwater and groundwater protections at an earlier point in the composting process,” Farnan said. “So that’ll expand the capacity they have.”

The rule change would expand the exemptions for smaller sites such as universities and community gardens.

It could also boost operations like Full Circle Organics in Good Thunder, where landowner David Fitzsimmons and his brothers invested $1 million to build a composting facility on 10 acres of land. Open since last February, the facility hasn’t made a profit yet. But Fitzsimmons is encouraged by the demand in the area.

“It sounded like a good idea (and) I think it still does,” Fitzsimmons said. “You know, we’ve been farming and raising hogs for almost 40 years and we were ready for a new venture. We like doing something new like this that is we think the right thing to do and something that is becoming more and more popular, I think.”

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