Healthy soil is an important and valuable resource for numerous Minnesota landscapes including those in our agricultural and horticultural industries. Compost, a humus-like product derived from the aerobic decomposition of organic materials, is a soil amendment that is regulated in part, by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Compost has many desirable benefits for soil as it can improve the soil structure, improve the habitat for beneficial soil organisms thereby restoring soil fertility, conserve water and reduce erosion.
A composting facility is substantially different from a backyard compost pile. Large-scale compost facilities closely monitor and have practices in place to ensure conditions are ideal for composting. Waste entering the facility and finished compost are tested so finished compost is safe and the environment is protected.
To operate a compost facility in Minnesota, you must have a solid waste facility permit. The application form, instructions, and checklists are available from MPCA's Solid Waste Permit Application webpage.
Yard waste includes garden waste, leaves, lawn clippings, weeds, shrub and tree waste, and pruning. These materials have been banned from Minnesota landfills since 1992. Owners or operators of a new yard waste facility need to fill out a permit-by-rule notification form and are responsible for following Minnesota's compost rules.
- Yard Waste Compost Facility Siting and Management Considerations
- Composting facilities (Minn. Rules 7035.2836)
- Yard waste permit-by-rule sites
Permit-by-Rule notification. This form is now online as an e-Service. Review the guidance document for information about what is required to complete and submit the notification form. The local acknowledgment form must completed before you can submit the notification.
- Yard Waste PBR e-Services Guidance
- Yard Waste Composting PBR Local Acknowledgment Form
- e-Services webpage
Home backyard compost bins are not regulated by the MPCA. Check with your community about local ordinances or requirements.
Collecting organic material such as food scraps and compostable paper is becoming more common. Some communities offer curbside organics collection or drop-off locations for residents. A growing number of businesses, organizations and schools are also participating in organics collection.
Drop-off sites may be established in one of three places
- an existing facility with a permit such as a transfer station,
- an existing facility with a Permit-by-Rule (PBR) such as a yard waste site, or
- a new standalone site that is not associated with other solid waste activities, called a limited solid waste collection services transfer facility.
Find detailed information on how to set up a dropsite at each of these locations at:
Source separated organic material drop-off sites (w-sw3-57)
To establish a drop-off site in your community
- Permitted sites: Contact your MPCA permit engineer.
- PBR facilities: Complete and submit the Source Separated Organic Materials Transfer Facility PBR Notification Form.
- Stand-alone drop-off sites/Limited solid waste collection services transfer facility: Inform your county Solid Waste Administrator of your intent to establish an organics drop-off site. Ensure the drop-site complies with the location and operating standards found in Source separated organic material drop-off sites (w-sw3-57)
Questions? Contact Tim Farnan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-757-2348
Looking for a composter in your area?
Visit BioCycle's www.findacomposter.com
It's a free searchable directory of compost facilities in North America.
State regulations have changed that allows more flexibility for composting at places such as community gardens, universities, churches, apartment buildings, and commercial properties. A small compost site bridges the gap between a backyard compost and a larger commercial compost site. For more information, visit the Small compost site webpage.
Many communities are testing or implementing programs to divert the entire organic waste stream, not just yard waste for composting.
The MPCA has permitted the following s facilities to compost organics including food scraps:
- Creekside Organic Material Processing: Hutchinson - 111 Hassan St SE (55350); Andy Kosek, (320) 587-6762
- The Mulch Store: Rosemount - 16454 Blaine Ave (55068); Kevin Tritz, 952-946-6999
- Midwest Recycling Solutions/MFS Farms: Good Thunder - 16225 563rd Ave (56037); Kevin Fitzsimmons, 507-317-0746
- Mdewakanton Sioux Community Organics Recycling Facility: Shakopee (55379); Al Friedges, 951-233-9192
- Swift County Compost/ Recycling Facility: Benson (56215); Scott Collins 320-843-2356
- Tri-County Organics: St. Cloud - 40 35th Ave NE (56304)
- WLSSD Source Separated Compost Facility: Duluth - 2626 Courtland S (55806); Tim Lundell 218-740-4822
Some transfer stations also collect organics where they can be consolidated before being transferred to a compost facility. Waste haulers need to make arrangements with transfer facilities prior to brining organics to them. The Brooklyn Park Transfer station does have a public drop-off collection for organics – check the website for details. Otherwise transfer stations are typically not open to the public. The following transfer stations will accept organics from waste haulers:
- SKB Environmental – Malcom Transfer Station: Minneapolis – 630 Malcolm Ave SE, 612-331-4610
- Hennepin County Brooklyn Park Transfer Station: Brooklyn Park – 8100 Jefferson Hwy, 612-348-3777 (only organics from Hennepin County are accepted at this site)
Other state agencies have rules concerning composting:
- Minnesota Board of Animal Health regulates composting of farm animal mortalities.
- Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has specifications for the quality and use of compost for its turf establishment projects. See MnDOT Standard Specifications for Construction, specification 3890.
- Minnesota Department of Agriculture regulates the labeling and fees of compost sold as fertilizer. See Minn. Rules 1510.0430 - 1510.0434
- Commingling Residential Organics with Yard Waste
- Continuation & Expansion of the Commercial & Residential Co-collected Organics Compost Project
- Aspergillusem Fungus Spores from Yard Waste Compost Facilities
- Yard Waste Compost Facilities - Inert Material Testing
- Metro county organic collection and compost programs reports
For more information about composting community yard waste and solid waste material, contact:
- Lisa Mojsiej, 651-757-2373 (yard waste permits)
- Anthony Bello, 651-757-2219 (solid waste permitting)
- Tim Farnan, 651-757-2348 (general compost information/markets)