Outline of a Successful System
Olmsted County has been and is committed to protecting the people and environment in our community. The county continues to make investments in the resources and infrastructure we need to ensure our air, soil, and water are protected now and for future generations.
When it comes to solid waste management, Olmsted County uses a holistic approach by addressing avoidance, reduction, reuse, recycling, and recovery. After that, safe disposal is used as a last resort.
Located in southeastern Minnesota, Olmsted County's geology is predominantly active karst, consisting of fractured limestone bedrock with little soil cover. The karst terrain makes groundwater susceptible to surface water contamination. In the 1980s, garbage disposal was a hot topic in the community. The Oronoco Landfill was listed as a Superfund cleanup site. There was a growing concern that leachate from the site could impact the drinking water aquifer due to the local karst features of underground fractures, fissures, sinkholes, and conduits that make the groundwater susceptible to pollution.
The community could have easily decided to ship our trash to another county or state, but the leaders decided to seek a more comprehensive system and better way to deal with solid waste. Their vision and leadership resulted in an integrated solid waste management system that included a waste-to-energy (WTE) facility, a recycling center, a hazardous waste facility, a yard waste composting site, and the development of a modern landfill that exceeded state requirements.
More information about each facility in the system can be found on our garbage and recycling page.