According to Penn State University, on average, a U.S. household generates 650 pounds of compostable material, including yard waste, food scraps and paper, each year. Unfortunately, 60% of this material goes into landfills instead of being recycled. Municipal compost facilities such as the one in the town of Orchard Park, N.Y., are recycling organic and yard waste into compost and mulch, materials that help restore depleted soil and fuel plant growth. And they’re saving their communities money.
Back Into The Land Instead Of Landfills
Frederick Piasecki, Jr., Facility Director of the compost facility in Orchard Park, grabs a handful of material?from a long windrow. “Black gold,” he says. “Our facility probably saves the community a-half-a-million dollars a year by diverting waste from costly landfills. Plus we can sell our materials to cover our operation costs.”
Orchard Park is a community of approximately 27,000 people. It’s home to the Buffalo Bills professional football team. Ralph Wilson Stadium, or “The Ralph” as it’s known, is only a 10-minute drive from the compost facility where Piasecki works.
The compost facility produces 30,000 cubic yards of the “black stuff” each year. Community members bring in leaves to the site, which are then collected and biodegraded into a valuable organic fertilizer. The facility also accepts?brush and tree trimmings from residents, other municipalities, and tree services, that are eventually?ground into chips and used to produce mulch.
“We’re receiving from nature, and we’re giving back,” says Piasecki. “Residents of Orchard Park love our facility. They can buy compost and mulch at a reduced cost. And once a year, we have a free mulch day for our residents. People mark that on their calendars and are lined up down the block. We also sell our material to landscapers and garden centers.”
The compost facility is immaculate and state-of-the-art. A massive expanse of asphalt provides a smooth, clean surface, making it easy to tend to the long windrows of compost and mulch. “We’ve had Boy Scout troops and garden clubs in here to learn about the process,” say Piasecki. “We’re very proud of this facility.”
Our facility probably saves the community a-half-a-million dollars a year by diverting waste from costly landfills. Plus we can sell our materials to cover our operation costs. ”
—Frederick Piasecki, Jr.
Turning Over An Old Leaf
The facility’s three John Deere loaders are constantly on the go. A 244J Compact Loader fills?and unloads customer vehicles, while a larger 444K Loader tows a Wildcat compost turner that’s powered by a Deere engine. The turner constantly inverts the compost piles, which introduces oxygen into the mix, and speeds decomposition. A 644J Loader is used for the mulch operation by moving the brush, feeding the chipper and stockpiling buckets of mulch.
“Our newest addition is the 244J,” says Piasecki. “We’re really delighted with it. Its compact size is perfect for stockpiling in tight areas around the tall windrows. Visibility is outstanding, which is important for safety when loading customer vehicles.”
The compost facility hasn’t had many issues with its machines, but Piasecki knows the local John Deere dealer, Five Star Equipment, is right there for them. “Five Star has been just really phenomenal. We have a great relationship with the service manager. We can’t say enough about them.”