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Beltrami County Solid Waste


Participants will collect organics at home or business in either a reusable container or an Organix Solutions certified compostable bag. Source Separated means that the material will be sorted out at the source to provide clean organic composting material. Once your container or bag is full you will bring it to either the Blackduck or Bemidji Transfer Station. The full Organic Composting Container will then be transported to the MPCA permitted source separated organic materials facility co-located at the Gentilly Landfill in Polk County. The material then will be turned into rich compost.

This new program is one of the few organics programs in rural Minnesota. We will be adjusting the program as we go. Please have patience as we figure out how this program will work best for our County. Excess contamination in the organics bin may even shut down the program entirely. We are counting on the participating volunteers for the success of this program.

About one-third of our trash is organic material that can be composted. Organic material that can be composted includes, food scraps, food-soiled paper, and certified compostable products. Beltrami County’s new composting program allows residents and businesses to compost.

See the Organics Composting Guide for acceptable materials in Beltrami’s composting program.

Food scraps are collected and delivered to an industrial compost site where it is recycled into nutrient-rich compost soil. Nutrients from the food scraps help build healthy soil that can be used to grow more food.

If you have doubt throw it out, it can be difficult to throw something away when you think it might be compostable, but if you have doubts it must be thrown in the trash. You can also bring the item to the solid waste department to determine if you can compost it in the future. Excess contamination in the material is one factor that can hinder the success of the program.

On average, a family of four can lose at least $1500 a year on wasted food. Wasted food costs labor, resources, time, and money. Save the Food has tips and tools on how to meal prep, new recipes, and food storage to reduce food waste.

Come visit the Bemidji or Blackduck Transfer Station to enroll in the organics compost program and pick up free compostable bags, while supplies last. Start by collecting kitchen food scraps in the compostable bags or a container. Once your compost bag is full bring it to Bemidji or Blackduck Transfer Stations and add your food scraps to the compost container. You can also purchase compostable bags from local retailers: Harmony Food Co-op, L & M Fleet or Mackenzie Place. If you purchase bags be sure they are certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI).

Participants will sign a participation program agreement stating they understand what can and can’t be placed in the Organic Composting Container at both the Bemidji and Blackduck Transfer Station. These containers have an air system with bio filters to reduce odors, and begin the composting process on site. Participation Agreements available at either Transfer Station or the Solid Waste Office located on the second floor of the Bemidji Transfer Station (follow the signs).Participants will be given a code to open the door. The reason we are going to lock the door is limit access and hopefully get cleaner material (only items on the acceptable items list).

Choose a container and location that works for you. Covered containers should still have airflow, such as loose-fitting lids or air holes. Use a kitchen countertop compost bin or simply use an ice cream bucket. 

  • Store your food scrap collection bin in the fridge or freezer. 
  • Well labeled bins help clarify what goes where.
  • Certified compostable products such as paper bowls, cups, containers, and utensils must have the BPI or Cedar Grove logo to be acceptable.
  • Items that use the term Biodegradable or PLA 7 are not compostable.
  • It's Easier than you think!

  • Backyard composting acceptable materials differ from commercial compost facilities
  • Compost leaves, grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, and coffee grounds are acceptable for home composting.
  • Do not compost meat and dairy products at home.
  • Do not compost compostable products like cups, utensils, or plates at home.
  • To learn more, check out the MPCA's Backyard Composting Guide.

Participating in an Organics recycling program can allow businesses and schools to reduce the cost of waste disposal, benefit the environment, and educate the community. When separated from regular garbage, food waste is not subject to the taxes and fees associated with garbage sent to the landfill. Call Beltrami County Solid Waste for assistance, our staff will help you develop an organics program that works for you.

Businesses or schools that generate enough compostable materials can be eligible for an on-site organics compost container. Call 218-333-8187 for more information.

Currently, food waste is collected at the Bemidji and Blackduck Transfer Stations. The compostable material from the transfer stations is transported to Polk County’s industrial compost facility where it is turned into compost. 

At the compost facility, carbon-rich yard waste and nitrogen-rich food scraps are mixed. The mix of organic material is put in long piles called “windrows”. The windrows sit for 3-4 weeks and generate heat. The compost is turned to introduce oxygen to assist in the composting process. Oxygen allows the microbes in the compost to break down the material. The piles are uncovered for two weeks. At the end of the process, the compost is screened to sort out any contaminants. The final product is a valuable nutrient-rich compost.

  • Reduces the amount of trash going go landfills
    • Waste sort studies continue to show that the organic material is the largest percent of our trash.
  • Improves soil quality and protects water
    • By adding compost to soil it reduces the need for pesticides and fertilizers. Adding compost to the soil also reduces runoff and erosion of soil by increasing water retention.
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
    • Organic material that decomposes in landfills produces methane gas. Composting organics instead of throwing it away helps reduce methane emissions from landfills.
  • Supports a local economy
    • The composting industry in Minnesota supports about 700 jobs and produces $149 million in gross economic activity per year. The compost industry provides 4-8 times more jobs on a per ton basis than landfilling operations.
  • Supports the goal of zero waste to landfills
    • Composting organic material is preferable to incineration. The incineration of wet organic materials is not energy efficient. Organics recycling creates a beneficial and nutrient-rich compost and supports Minnesota’s waste hierarchy which prioritizes composting over incineration or waste to energy.

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