ST. CLOUD -- This week in our "Behind the Scenes" series on WJON, we learn the process of organic recycling at Tri-County Organics.

Every morning General Manager Jamie Phenow makes his rounds picking up organic waste material.

"So I pick up about 150 carts full of waste a week," says Phenow.

He begins each pickup by checking the containers and dumping waste into his truck.

Phenow collects waste from schools, grocery stores and the CentraCare Health Plaza and says in a giving week can collect 10 tons of waste.

"I typically collect anywhere from 8 to 10 tons of waste per week," says Phenow.

Once his rounds are done, it's back to the compost site to unload the material and start the mixing process.

"Basically all I am doing is trying to rip open the compost bags to speed up the decomposition process," says Phenow.

After the material is ground up, it's placed on the active pile where the break down process starts.

"Withing 21 days most of the food waste in unrecognizable, the compost bags pretty much disappear," says Phenow.

The material on the active pile is then moved to several other piles over the course of many months to continue the break down process.

"So it's a continuous cycle where eventually the last pile will become our finished product that will be ready to be screened and turned into dirt," says Phenow.

Phenow says it can take up to a year before the waste reaches its final stage and is ready to be sold.

"The longer you let it cook, the better product you are going to have," says Phenow.

Tri-County Organics is a compost site for both yard and food waste. Phenow says while they have only been dealing with food waste for a year, he says its only going to get better.

Organic waste is mixed and ready to be place on the active compost pile. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON News)