The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community says its new organics recycling facility in rural Scott County will be free of the foul odors that have irritated nearby neighbors of the current facility in Shakopee.

An expanded operation for composting food scraps and waste is necessary as more metro-area cities offer organics recycling, Minnesota and tribal officials said. It will replace the tribe's current organics recycling site in Shakopee, which has no room to grow.

The only other large-scale composting site in the Twin Cities is in Rosemount.

"Having them expand will make sure there's capacity for this growth we'd like to see," said Tim Farnan, supervisor of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's (MPCA) planning and assistance unit. "It's just a question of keeping up."

The tribe will break ground next week on the 93-acre, $20 million site in Louisville Township. The facility is expected to open next summer and will eventually accept three times the organic waste — 212,500 tons — annually as the Shakopee operation. That amount will include composted material and 40,000 tons of yard waste.

"While it might not look like much, in the world of composting, it's very advanced," said Steve Albrecht, the tribal operations administrator who is overseeing the project.

Workers will unload organics in an enclosed space, and composting piles will need to be turned over only twice, compared with the five turnings now required. Composting will take 20 days, compared with the current 70 to 90 days. The changes will mean very little odor, he said.

Workers will also be able to control the piles' temperature and air flow with the new system, Albrecht said.

And the new project's site is zoned industrial and farther from homes than the Shakopee facility. The closest residence is 1,500 feet away, he said.

The new facility, like the one in Shakopee, will produce wood mulch along with premixed soils and compost material sold as a soil additive.

Counting on technology

Minnesota officials set a goal of having 75% of the state's garbage — including organics — recycled by 2030. Only about 45% of Minnesota's waste is now recycled.

The MPCA's new solid waste draft plan for the next two decades calls for cities with more than 5,000 residents to provide curbside organics recycling, increasing demand for organics recycling facilities.

The project has received two of the three MPCA permits needed — a solid waste permit for organics and a stormwater permit. The tribe is working through the details of an air permit with the MPCA, Albrecht said.

The tribe voluntarily completed an environmental assessment worksheet for the new site, and the MPCA issued a "negative declaration," meaning the operation won't hurt the environment and an environmental impact statement isn't necessary.

The facility received $2.5 million from the federal government for a stormwater treatment system to filter PFAS, otherwise known as "forever chemicals," Albrecht said. Hamburger wrappers, pizza boxes and other food containers are often lined with the chemicals, which can leach into the compost piles when it rains.

The Louisville Township Board, the Scott County Board and the county planning commission have approved the project.

County Commissioner Barb Weckman Brekke said the new facility will be a positive move because "from a big-picture level, we all need to do better with recycling organics."

She said she's hopeful the new technology will help reduce smells, adding that most resident complaints in Shakopee came when the compost piles were turned over.

Brekke said she's also concerned about traffic, with so many trucks coming and going.

The tribe is working with the state Department of Transportation to create turn and bypass lanes on Hwy. 41 at the entrance to the property, Albrecht said.

Township Board Chair John Weckman said he "didn't think we had much choice" but to recommend approval, since it was clear the project was going to happen.

He said he's received some complaints from residents and has his own concerns about traffic and odors. But Weckman said he thinks township residents won't notice the smells because they're on a hill.

He said any odors will likely reach Chaska, Shakopee and possibly Carver instead.

"If the new technology works, it's a good deal," Weckman said. If it doesn't, he said, he'll hear about it.

Construction is slated to start next month; a July 2024 opening is planned.