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A tour of food scraps and yard waste… yippee!

I recently had the plea­sure of attend­ing a tour of the new pilot com­post­ing facil­ity at the Alpha Ridge Land­fill. Busily, I took notes as the tour guide (Bureau of Envi­ron­men­tal Ser­vices Oper­a­tions Divi­sion Chief Jeff Dan­nis) gave us a thor­ough expla­na­tion of the oper­a­tions of the facil­ity. After the tour, due to my inter­est level and enthu­si­asm, a coworker called me a “Trash Nerd.” I am entirely okay with that.

Think about it – all of this yard waste and food scraps which could be tak­ing up space in a land­fill, and worse yet trans­ported to an out-of-state land­fill, could be processed into a valu­able prod­uct. You can see why this would be excit­ing to me!

Howard County is doing the pilot project to see if larger scale com­post­ing can save money on dis­posal costs while help­ing the envi­ron­ment. Here is a pic­ture from the tour.

The food scraps and yard waste that are deliv­ered by the col­lec­tion vehi­cles are ground up when they arrive. That ground mate­r­ial is then placed in piles along neg­a­tive air pipes that draw the air out and vent it through a large pile of wood chips. Once the pile is at the cor­rect size for pro­cess­ing, it is typ­i­cally cov­ered unless it becomes too damp. In that case, it is uncov­ered and “fluffed” to pro­mote a dryer envi­ron­ment for the com­post­ing to be suc­cess­ful. Com­post piles are care­fully mon­i­tored for tem­per­a­ture and mois­ture so that ideal com­post­ing con­di­tions can be reached.
Any other “trash nerds” out there? Or per­haps just peo­ple who want to learn more about tak­ing respon­si­bil­ity for and reduc­ing our waste stream? There’s detailed infor­ma­tion about the facil­ity at http://www.howardcountymd.gov/pilotcompost.htm. For infor­ma­tion about home com­post­ing please visit http://www.howardcountymd.gov/composting.htm. County res­i­dents can receive a fee com­post bin and get how-to advice from Mas­ter Gar­den­ers at the com­post­ing demon­stra­tions. The 2013 sched­ule is listed on the webpage.

Thanks for read­ing and happy com­post­ing!
Laura A.T. Miller

May 2013

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