A yard trimming roll cart. Courtesy/LAC
Los Alamos County compost facility. Courtesy/LAC
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
Some common signs of spring: chirping robins, flowering bulbs and lingering sunlight. Los Alamos has its own unique symbolic start to the season: the khaki-colored yard trimmings roll cart.
This week kicks off the start of the Los Alamos County Environmental Services Division’s yard trimmings collection program for the year. The collection program alternates weeks with the recycling program.
Environmental Services Division Manager Angelica Gurule explained the services are alternated to keep operating costs low.
She added that a study was conducted when the yard trimmings program started, and it found that on collection days the recycle carts weren’t completely full. However, individuals can ask for a larger or second recycle cart if needed.
The yard trimming roll cart is available to residents who pay for weekly curbside collection. At this time, only one yard trimming roll cart per household is available, Gurule said.
There are a few things to keep in mind when putting material in the yard trimmings roll cart. Gurule said the lid needs to close.
She also emphasized that no trash should be put in roll carts because it may contaminate the entire load and may need to be taken to the landfill.
She added if a driver can tell from the street that “it is contaminated … it will be tagged, and it won’t be collected. But other than that, the things that can go into the cart are any type of yard trimmings, pine cones, pine needles, branches not to exceed 36” length and 4” diameter, grass clippings, flowers – any sort of organic material you might find in the yard.”
Keeping the roll carts litter free or “clean” is important; Gurule said they have found some unusual things in the yard trimming carts such as car engine parts, plastic items, Styrofoam and diapers.
“The program will only be successful if people use it correctly,” she said, adding, “We want to try and keep it as clean as possible.”
Other unwanted items include trash, animal waste, treated wood or lumber, railroad ties, construction debris, hot ash, rocks, dirt and food. She explained food could attract bears. However, she noted the County is currently researching the possibility of providing a food compost program that will provide residents with the means to divert food from the landfill. Food waste composting feasibility study results will be brought before County Council March 29.
When the yard trimmings carts are emptied on collection day, the material is taken to the Eco Station and then down to Bayo Canyon for the bio-solid compost program. A grinder processes the yard waste to make compost and mulch, which is available for customers for their landscaping needs, Gurule said.
She added the mulch is great for wells around trees, so they don’t need to be watered as often. Mulch also is great for preventing erosion.
A grinder is used to process brush into wood chips and mulch. Courtesy/LAC
The yard trimmings collection program started four years ago and has grown since its inception.
“Over 70 percent of all households participate in the program,” Gurule said.
As a result of the high participation, tons of material have been diverted from the landfill. In Fiscal Year 2021 alone 955 tons of yard waste was diverted from the landfill. Plus, 500 tons of compost was collected by residents. Gurule said this amount of compost is equivalent to 25 semi-trailers.
“The yard trimming program keeps organic material out of the landfill and prevents harmful greenhouse emissions such as methane,” Gurule said. “It’s great for the environment and for our community.”
If interested in getting a yard trimmings roll cart, go to the Environmental Services Division website and click on “Roll Cart Request”.