• Backyard Composting

    compost bin with vegetable scrapsComposting is nature’s way of recycling materials.  It is the natural breakdown of organic wastes by bacteria, fungi, worms, and other organisms under controlled conditions. Besides conserving resources and diverting organic material from landfills, backyard composting can save you money. By diverting your household’s food waste from the garbage, you can reduce the size and cost of your garbage container.

    Recipe for composting:

    Materials & Ingredients Needed:
    Compost container
    Stirring tool: shovel or pitchfork
    “Brown” compostable materials (see below for list)
    “Green” compostable materials (see below for list)

    Instructions for Successful Composting:

    1. Construct your compost container: Select a dry, shady spot near a water source to place your compost bin.
    2. Add “green” compostable material: This includes fruit and vegetable scraps, bread products, grass clippings, plant trimmings and weeds. These materials are high in carbon.
    3. Add “brown” compostable material: This includes fallen leaves, straw, sawdust, wood chips, and twigs. These materials are high in nitrogen.
    4. Mix: Turn the compost with a stirring tool regularly; no more frequently than once a week. This prevents unpleasant odors and quickens decomposition.  If strong odors occur despite regular turning, add a bulking agent (straw, sawdust or dry leaves). Add water if pile seems too dry (compost should appear “damp” but not soggy).
    5. Use: The result of composting is a dark, crumbly, earthy-smelling mixture that can be used as a fertilizer, mulch or in a potting mix.

    Helpful Hints

    • “Brown” compostable materials include fallen leaves, straw, coffee grounds, wood chips, twigs and sawdust. These materials are high in carbon.
    •  “Green” compostable materials include weeds, grass clippings, plant trimmings and food scraps. They are high in nitrogen.
    • The ideal ratio for “green” to “brown” material in your bin is generally considered to be a 50/50 mix (1:1 ratio). However, 1:2 or 2:1 ratios will still allow your pile to compost. Disproportionate amounts of “green” can lead to strong odors, and too much “brown” will dry out your pile and stop the composting process. 
    • Coffee grounds are high in both carbon and nitrogen, so they are categorized as both green and brown, depending on whom you ask. Paper coffee filters can also be added to your compost pile.
    • Do not add the following items to compost container: grease, oil, fat, bones, dairy products, meat or pet waste. These items can be recycled at one of the Dakota County Organics Drop-Sites instead. 

    To get your own backyard composting bin:

    Information on building compost containers (Missouri Extension Services).

    Check at your local garden center for compost bins or go online to recycleminnesota.orgto see if a Compost Bin and Rain Barrel sale is happening near you. 

    Check out a Sustainability Man video about composting:


  • Collection Containers for Your Event

    Organics collection containers.

    Trash, recycling, and organics x-frames.

    Are you planning to hold an event? Would you like to hold an event, but don’t know what to do about all the trash? 

    Now you can reserve trash, recycling, and organics collection containers from Dakota Valley Recycling all year long. The X-frame containers are easy to set up and use!

    Even if you already have trash cans, recycling and organics collection containers can help reduce the amount of waste from your event.

    Recycle these (blue bins):

    • Cans
    • Plastic and glass bottles
    • Paper
    • Cardboard

    And put these in the organics (green bins):

    • Food
    • Soiled paper products like paper plates and compostable utensils
    • Napkins

    If you're new to collecting organics, you may want to check out our Intro to Organics Recycling and consult this detailed guide to compostable items.

    Call 952-895-4559 to check availability and make a reservation, or for any additional questions.


  • Environmental Guide

    Find the latest Environmental Guide right here! For information on what to recycle at home, organics drop sites, and the Recycling Zone, keep this Guide handy!


  • Food Waste Programs

    Businesses that generate food waste have options for disposing of this waste other than sending it to the landfill.  Starting an organics recycling program is a viable option for giving your food waste another purpose, and being an environmental steward. 

    There are three main organics recycling options for businesses:

    Food-to-People Programs-- Sometimes food being thrown away is edible and fine for human consumption.  This waste material can serve as a resource for food rescue organizations and can provide hunger relief for those in need in the community. This includes donating fresh or prepared food that is still good such as day-old bread or that day's leftovers. For more information visit Rethink Recycling's Food Recovery Guide. 

    Food-to-Livestock Programs-- Food that is no longer safe for people to eat can still find a good use.  Food waste can be taken by a farmer to be processed into animal feed.  This includes any amount of food scraps and by-products. For more information check out Rethink Recycling's Guide and search Food to Animals. 

    Organics Composting-- Food scraps and soiled paper can be collected and taken to a compost facility where it is composted and turned into a nutrient rich soil amendment. Call your hauler for organics recycling options and check out the local SET compost site in Dakota County.

  • Free Organics Recycling

    The number one item in our trash is food and it’s finding its way to the landfill. That’s why nearly8,000 Dakota County households have registered to participate in the free organics drop-off program. Across all eight locations, more than 10,000 pounds of food scraps and other compostable products are collected each week.  

    Bringing organics to a drop-off site is easy and can dramatically reduce waste. The typical household can divert up to one-third of trash by delivering items such as food scraps, spoiled produce, coffee grounds and bones. Instead of sitting in a landfill, this material is turned into compost — a nutrient-rich soil additive — used in gardening and landscaping. 

    Sites are located throughout the county — Burnsville, Eagan, Farmington, Hastings, Lakeville, Mendota Heights, Rosemount and West St. Paul – with more sites opening this year.  


    Locations are open daily from 5 a.m.-10 p.m., unless noted below.

    To sign up and for more information, emailThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 952-891-7557. All registered participants receive helpful tips and compostable bags to use at home. 

    Partially funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Dakota County.  


  • Lakeville Ames Arena Recycles Organics

    Waste station at arenaThe Lakeville Ames Arena is aiming for a new goal: zero waste. The Arena's new waste system provides three options for disposing waste including traditional recycling, trash, and green organics bins. Hockey players and fans alike will notice new green bins around the arena including in the concessions, restrooms and spectating areas. 

    To make it easier, the containers all have photos showing what can be thrown where, and all of the items in the concessions have been switched to BPI-Certified compostable products that can be placed in the green bin. Of course, cans and water bottles should continue to go in the traditional blue recycling bin and everything else such as chip bags and candy wrappers belongs in the black trash bin. 

    Organics recycling plays an essential role in keeping valuable materials out of landfills. Organics collected at the Ames Arena will be brought to a local organics recycling facility to be turned into compost, a valuable soil additive. Compost improves soil quality, reduces erosion, reduces greenhouse gases, and decreases the need for chemical fertilizers. 

    Be sure to check out the Ames Arena's ongoing efforts towards zero-waste on your next trip to the rink! 

  • Organics Drop-Site Now Open in Lebanon Hills

    Dakota County has opened a new organics drop-site at Holland Lake Trailhead in Lebanon Hills. The drop site opened on November 3rd, 2017 and all Dakota County residents are welcome to sign up and participate in the program for free. For more information about the organics recycling program, go to and search organics drop off. 

    How to Participate

    1. Sign Up

    Call 952-891-7557 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    You'll receive a welcome kit with a free container label, compostable bags and details on what can and cannot go in the organics bin. You'll also receive the access code to enter the locked drop-off location. Anyone is welcome to participate, but the enclosure requires a code to prevent non-organic contamination. 

    2. Start Collecting Organic Waste                                                        

    You can use any container to collect organics such as:     

    • A small step containerBPI logo
    • A clean and empty ice cream bucket, coffee container, or other type of tub
    • A specially designed countertop organics container which can be purchased at local stores or online

    Line your container with a paper bag or certified compostable bags which are provided to residents for free at the drop-site. If you decide to purchase your own bags, make suCedar Grove Logore they have the BPIor Cedar Grove Logo on the bag.          

    When the bag is full, securely tie it closed and bring it to a drop-site near you. There are two locations in Dakota County Thompson County Park (360 Butler Ave, West St. Paul) or Lebanon Hills (opening November 3rd, Holland Lake Trailhead, 1100 Cliff Rd, Eagan).

    Accepted items:

    • All food, food scraps, peels, pits, etc.
    • Coffee grounds, filters and teabags
    • Paper towels, napkins and tissues   Food Scraps
    • Paper towel and toilet paper rolls
    • Paper egg cartons
    • Certified compostable products: Items with the BPI or Cedar Grove certified compostable logo on the product or packaging
    • Hair and fur
    • Popsicle sticks and toothpicks
    • Houseplant trimmings and flowers

    Not accepted

    • Yard waste
    • Plastic bags
    • Pet waste, litter, or bedding
    • Fast food wrappers
    • Frozen food boxes
    • Microwave popcorn bags
    • Paper plates, bowls and cups without BPI or Cedar Grove certification
    • Single-serve coffee pods (i.e., K-Cups® )


    Organics collected at these sites will be brought to a local organics recycling facility (The Mulch Store Specialized Environmental Technologies site) where it will be turned into compost; a nutrient-rich soil additive. Because the organics collected is brought to a commercial facility, meat, dairy, and bones are accepted among other food scrapes and napkins. Compost is beneficial because it improves soil quality, reduces erosion, and decreases the need for chemical fertilizers. Questions about this program? Visit the Dakota County webpage or call 952-891-7557. 

  • Pumpkin Composting Events

    Instead of throwing Mr. Jack-o-Lantern in the trash, residents of Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, and Lakeville can drop off their pumpkins at Dakota Valley Recycling's annual pumpkin composting event. This year, the event will be held at FOUR locations making it easier than ever to carve some time into your schedule! The event is FREE for all participants.

    All collection bins will be available November 4th and 5th. (Check back next summer for Fall 2024 dates.)

    Drop-off Locations

    Apple Valley Maintenance Facility
    6442 140th St. W.
    Apple Valley, MN 55124
    Burnsville Market Garden
    260 Civic Center Parkway
    Burnsville, MN 55337

    Eagan Community Center
    1501 Central Pkwy (southwest parking lot)
    Eagan, MN 55121

    Lakeville Police Station
    9237 183rd St. W.
    Lakeville, MN 55044

    In 2023, we collected over 90,000 lbs. of pumpkins! That's as much as SIX elephants! Join us this year in shattering last year's record, and don't forget to bring your neighbor's pumpkin too! 

    What happens to the pumpkins? 

    All pumpkins are brought to the Specialized Environmental Technologies compost facility in Rosemount where they will be turned into compost - a valuable soil additive. Compost improves soil quality, reduces erosion, reduces greenhouse gases, and decreases the need for chemical fertilizers. 

    Questions about this event? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view send an email or call 952-895-4515

  • Residential Compost Sites

    fallen leavesState law in Minnesota prohibits the disposal of yard waste with your garbage.  If you have the ability to take your yard waste to a compost site, you have the choice of a number of privately-run sites in the area.  All yard waste disposal is subject to fees; call ahead for pricing.

    Food & yard waste drop-off locations

    The Mulch Store, Empire
    16454 Blaine Ave
    Rosemount, MN 55068
    Open year-round
    Call for hours.
    Accepts: Leaves, grass clippings, brush, tree waste, stumps, logs, and all food scraps
    For Sale: Compost, landscape mulch.

    Yard waste only drop-off locations

    The Mulch Store, Burnsville
    1030 W Cliff Rd
    Burnsville, MN 55337
    Open seasonally (April through November 30, weather permitting).
    Call for hours.
    Accepts: Leaves, grass clippings, brush, tree waste, stumps, logs, soil.
    For Sale: Compost, blended dirt, landscape mulch.

    Gertens R.E.S.
    805 Yankee Doodle Rd
    Eagan, MN 55121
    Open seasonally (April through November 30, weather permitting).
    Call for hours.
    Accepts: Leaves, grass clippings, soft plant material, brush, tree waste, stumps, logs, soil, sod, fill, gravel, stone/rock, concrete (rebar-free).
    For Sale: Compost, landscape mulch, decorative rock.

    Gertens Brickyard (retail location)
    5500 Blaine Ave
    Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076
    651-450-1501 (store)
    651-239-1369 (direct) 
    Open year-round
    Call for hours.
    Accepts: Leaves, grass clippings, soft plant material, brush, tree waste, stumps, logs, soil, sod, fill, gravel, stone/rock, concrete (rebar-free).
    For Sale: compost, top soil, landscape mulch, decorative rock, gravel, river rock.

    South Saint Paul Compost Site
    681 Verderosa Ave
    South St. Paul, MN 55075
    Open seasonally.
    See website for hours.
    Accepts: Grass, sod, sod trimmings, garden waste. You may bring your compost in any type of bag or by the trailer load.
    Fee: Call for fees.

    Davey Tree Horticultural Specialists, Inc.
    405 Hardman Avenue South, South St. Paul
    Phone Number: (651) 451-8907
    Open seasonally- call for exact dates
    Saturday: 8:00am- 12:00pm
    Accepts: Brush disposal
    Fee: $10/load - cash only


    Residents can also schedule a pick-up with their garbage service provider for an added fee.

  • Vermicomposting

    worms for vermicompostingVermicomposting is the process of using worms to turn kitchen waste into a black, earthy-smelling, nutrient-rich humus.

    You Need 5 Basic Ingredients to Start Vermicomposting:

    1. A Container. Worm boxes can be purchased or made. Plastic storage containers are convenient and come in a variety of sizes. These containers are easily transported.  Never snap the lid shut tight. The lid should lie loosely on the bin.
    2. Bedding.Use shredded corrugated cardboard, shredded paper like newspaper, or commercial worm bedding which is available in sporting goods stores, but it is also more expensive.
    3. Water. Place the dry, shredded bedding in a large container and add water until it covers the bedding.  Squeeze the water out from the bedding as much as possible. Place the bedding in the bin and fluff. Your bedding needs to remain moist.  Mist if necessary.
    4. Worms. The worms used in vermicomposting are called redworms (Eisenia foetida).  You can order them through lawn and garden catalogs.  Keep the temperature between 55 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
    5. Non-Fatty Kitchen Scraps. Add vegetable & fruit waste, coffee grounds, egg shells, and tea bags.  Start slowly.  Gradually increase the amount of food.  Pull back a small amount of bedding and dump in the scraps. Cover the scraps with bedding.

    The worms will digest the kitchen scraps and bedding faster than any other compost method, passing through the worms' bodies and becoming "castings." In about 3-4 months, the worms will have digested nearly all the garbage and bedding.  The bin will be filled with a rich, black natural fertilizer. Worm castings contain five times more nitrogen, seven times more phosphorus and 11 times more potassium than soil. Remove the castings from time to time.

    For more information go to

  • What is Organics Recycling?

    YoOrganics Container at Ames Center, Burnsvilleu may have seen new bins around your community featuring signs that say "organics only," but what does that mean? Organics recycling is the recycling of organic material- anything that was once alive- into compost, a special soil amendment. Composting happens naturally and requires very little energy input. Organics recycling plays a key role in keeping valuable materials out of landfills and doing it correctly will help Minnesota reach its 75% recycling goal. 

    What can go in the organics bin?

    About 30% of what we usually throw away is actually organics including food scraps and food-soiled paper products. 
    See a detailed list of acceptable and unacceptable items. 

    I backyard compost- is this different? 

    The organics recycling you see in your community is different than backyard composting because the organics are brought to a specialized recycling facility. This facility will line up the organics in windrows which creates more heat than you would find in your backyard. Because of this, things such as bones, meat, and paper-products can go in these bins. 

    Visit our Backyard Composting page for more information on how to get started at home, or sign-up for one of Dakota County's Organics Drop-Sites online.

    Is composting the best solution to our waste problem?

    First and foremost, waste should always be reduced. If that is not possible, reusing is the next best thing. Only if we cannot reduce and reuse should we recycle or compost. Of course if the item is not recyclable or compostable such as but not limited to chip bags, Styrofoam©, and/or pet waste, then it must go in the trash. Reducing is especially important when it comes to buying food. Currently, in the United States, we are wasting as much as 40% of all of our food. Although composting is a great solution to preventing food scraps from entering the landfill, it is not the best solution to the food waste problem. For tips and tricks to reduce your food waste visit our Reduce Your Wasted Food Guide here

    How does it work?

    Composting is a natural process. Follow the arrows below to see what happens to items you put in the organics bin!

    Organics Recycling infographic


  • When is Composting Better Than Recycling?

    As more and more people turn to composting as a way to reduce their environmental impact, we are faced with a dilemma: is composting always better when it comes to paper? You may have heard that paper can only be recycled between five and seven times so it's easy to assume composting is a good alternative to recycling when the fibers are getting shorter. However, it's a little more complicated than that. By keeping paper out of the recycling bin, we are increasing the demand on trees, water and energy required to make virgin paper. So, to help break it down we have put together a list of the most confusing paper items to tell you whether composting or recycling is a better alternative. 



Contact Us

City Education Department
13713 Frontier Court
Burnsville, MN 55337-3817
Phone: 952-895-4559

Dakota Valley Recycling

DVR is the partnership recycling department for the Cities of Apple Valley, BurnsvilleEagan and Lakeville that connects residents and businesses to recycling, composting and waste disposal information.

DVR is not a drop off facility and does not accept any materials for recycling.