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