Westminster to start weekly collection of yard waste for composting program CENTRAL--Union Mills * Westminster * Sandymount * Finksburg

June 28, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

If Westminster residents put their grass clippings into compost collections that start next week, city officials say they can save landfill space and tax dollars.

City public works crews will start weekly pickups of yard waste -- grass clippings, leaves, shrub trimmings -- on Wednesday, July 7.

The yard waste will be accepted without charge at the county landfill in Reese. There, it will be laid out in long, parallel rows to become compost.

Westminster's tab for tipping fees at the landfill is averaging $14,000 a month, said Thomas B. Beyard, planning and public works director. The county charges $40 a ton to dump trash at the landfill.

City Councilman Edward S. Calwell, chairman of the solid waste committee, said the compost collection will reduce the city's refuse disposal costs.

"Every ton we keep out of the landfill is $40 we're not spending," he said.

City officials do not have estimates of how much they will save or how much it will cost to collect the compost.

Savings will depend on how many tons of yard waste the city can keep out of its trash, saving the $40-a-ton tipping fee.

Collection costs will depend on how much time it takes to pick up the clippings, at an average cost of $20 per hour, based on a two-person work crew.

City residents are asked to set their yard waste out for the collection in bushel baskets or clear plastic bags.

Bags must be clear plastic so workers can be sure they're picking up yard waste rather than trash, Mr. Beyard said. He said Mount Airy, which has a similar program, also requires clear plastic bags.

Yard waste should be set out between noon Tuesday and 6 a.m. Wednesday at the same spot where residents leave their trash and recyclables.

The new collection is voluntary. "This year we want to offer the service, get people into the idea," Mr. Beyard said.

He said the council might consider making it mandatory later.

Mr. Calwell said he has not received any feedback that would give him an idea of how many people will separate their yard waste and put it out for the compost collection. People are not yet aware of the program, he said.

The yard waste collection is an extension of Westminster's existing bulk trash removal service, Mr. Beyard said. The bulk service provides free pickups of large items, such as sofas, that city crews take to the landfill for residents. The crews also take clippings, tree limbs and leaves for recycling.

Tree limbs go into a wood chipper. The Public Works Department uses the chips for fill and mulching, Mr. Beyard said. He said the leaves are given away for mulch.

The county landfill staff has not had any experience with composting because not enough grass clippings have come in since the landfill began accepting wood and yard waste in January, said Keith Kirschnick, county public works director.

He said the grass clippings have been mixed with the wood and made into mulch.

At least initially, the compost will be given away, Mr. Kirschnick said. But if county officials see that a market exists, they might try to sell it.

Compost enriches soil in vegetable or flower gardens, said Vivian Strayer, horticultural consultant with the Carroll County office of the Cooperative Extension Service.

She said it adds nitrogen, phosphorus and potash to the soil.

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