I’m a klutz at composting. Every time I’ve tried, the stuff just sits there. So I am happy to see that the Twin Cities are making composting easier, with curbside pick-up for organics in Minneapolis and easy organics drop-off sites in St. Paul. Big news: St. Paul now has 24/7 drop-off sites, so you can get rid of the accumulated food waste before the raccoons raid your collection bin.
The biggest advantage in either curbside pickup or taking organics to a composting site is that someone else does the heavy lifting. Literally — someone else chops, turns, aerates, mixes and so on. Especially as I get older, that’s a very attractive proposition.
A second advantage is that the organics collection includes more than you can safely compost in your back yard: meat, fish, bones, dairy products, and paper napkins, towels, pizza boxes, egg cartons, tissue paper, etc. That’s in addition to traditional backyard compostables, such as fruits and vegetables and plant matter. (Here are detailed lists for Minneapolis and St. Paul.) The Mac-Groveland site explains why organic collection can accept items that you can’t compost in the back yard: “Organics are hauled to a high heat, commercial composting facility and processed into nutrient-rich finished compost.”
St. Paul is planning organics recycling pick-up in the future — possibly a year from now. For now, you have to take your organics to six of the seven the Ramsey County yard waste collection sites. The sites that accept organic waste are Battle Creek, Frank & Sims, Midway (Pierce Butler), Mounds View, Summit Hill, and White Bear Township. The sites are open to Ramsey County residents, so take along a photo ID, just in case you need it. (I’ve only been asked for ID once, when I was loading up the free wood mulch that is sometimes available.)
These sites have limited days and hours, which sometimes makes it complicated to get the melon rinds and corn cobs to the site before they ferment in the sun, attracting fruit flies and wasps and squirrels and raccoons. (We have some ferocious squirrels, who will chew right through heavy plastic containers, as well as raccoons who have gnawed their way through the closed tops of heavy-duty plastic garbage cans.)
BUT – St. Paul has just added a new 24/7 drop-off site at Como Park! Now, if you hear the raccoons in the corn cobs at 3 a.m., you can go out and shoo them away and take the organics to Como Park.
The new site on Beulah Lane, just north of the Humane Society and just west of the McMurray Field baseball field and soccer fields, accepts the same organics as other Ramsey County sites. It’s sponsored by District 10’s Como Composts campaign, along with the Ramsey County, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, and the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board. The site is open to anyone who lives in Ramsey County.
Ramsey County gives out free compostable bags to use for organics collection at home. These are available at the six Ramsey County sites, or from the Como or Mac-Groveland community council offices. All organics must be bagged, either in BPI-certified compostable bags or in brown paper grocery bags.
Raccoons, of course, will continue to lobby for easier access to garbage, as they have for decades. The Onion reported in this article, published in 2000:
“Every time you seal a standard 30-gallon garbage can, as many as six raccoons are forced to go without their necessary daily supply of congealed baked beans, rancid cottage-cheese chunks, and moldy cantaloupe rinds,” Bristletail told an audience of NARF members and human reporters.