SMSC brings waste management down to earth 

Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, and Congresswoman Angie Craig, with SMSC Chairman Keith Andreson and members of the SMSC Business Council breaking ground. (Photo courtesy of SMSC.)

By Lee Egerstrom

Minnesota’s state and federal leaders joined with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in late June to break ground for a new organics recycling plant that will greatly increase Minnesota’s ability to put waste materials to good use.

The new tribal enterprise, named Dakota Prairie Composting, will be built over the next year on 93 acres in nearby Lewisville Township. It will replace SMSC’s existing organics recycling facility in Shakopee, greatly expanding capacity.

The current plant handles on average 70,000 tons of food scraps and organic yard waste annually that would otherwise go into landfills. That represents about 23 percent of all composted organic matter for the Twin Cities metro area.

The new facility will increase that capacity to 172,000 tons, Tribal leaders said that will spare about 21,000 tons of carbon from entering the environment each year.

This project was guided by SMSC’s Dakota values to care for the earth and preserve the environment for future generations, said SMSC Chairman Keith B. Anderson at groundbreaking ceremonies.

“This history-making facility will help our state reduce its reliance on landfills, conserve energy and natural resources, and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” Anderson said in a statement. “We are glad to celebrate this milestone and appreciate the dedication of the agencies and government officials have has supported this project.”

Projects of this magnitude do require coordination and support at multiple government levels. The groundbreaking ceremony reflected that collaboration. Scheduled speakers at the ceremony included Minnesota’s U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, the area’s U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan (White Earth Ojibwe) and Patina Park (Cheyenne River/ Standing Rock Sioux), executive director of Tribal State Relations for Gov. Tim Walz.

Government funding is being provided for parts of the large project.

The groundbreaking announcement noted the new plant system will use an aerated static pile system and biofilter to allow it to compost materials with minimal odor. It will have an advanced stormwater reclamation system that is funded by a federal Community Project Funding appropriation. This later portion of the project will allow for water reuse and containment, protecting both area surface and groundwater resources.   Separately, SMSC is funding road improvements on Trunk Highway 41 in Louisville Township and intersecting with U.S. Route 169. This is to ease congestion and improve road safety, the announcement said. The latter include a highway bypass and turn lanes, and installation of rail crossing safety improvements.

“This is what happens when we work together at all levels of government – we can make real progress and improve people’s lives,” said Congresswoman Craig.

The organics recycling plant fits with a state goal of recycling 75 percent of Minnesota residential and commercial organic wastes by 2030.

The existing facility will close by the end of 2024 when the new plant begins operations. The recycling operation breaks down organic materials that include food scraps, tree and shrub stumps, yard trimmings and related organic matter to make compost products and blends for retail and wholesale purchase.

It is one of many SMSC enterprises that make the tribe and its holdings the largest employer in the metro area’s Scott County. Neighboring cities Prior Lake, Savage, and Shakopee, and the Prior Lake-Savage school system, use the facility. SMSC also lets the general public use the facility year around and that twice each year it accepts yard waste for free from Scott County residents.