County Marks 3-Year Anniversary Of Yard Trimming Program

COUNTY News:

Los Alamos County began its curbside yard trimming program in July 2018 to help the community reduce the amount of yard trimming material sent to the landfill.

By reducing the amount of yard trimming materials sent to the landfill, the county reduces the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere by avoiding hauling and disposal.

The yard trimming cart is a helpful tool for residents to dispose of pine needles, grass clippings, branches and leaves in an environmentally friendly way.

The program is voluntary and has been extremely successful:

  • During the first year of the program, from July 2018 to July 2019, approximately 755 tons of yard trimmings were collected;
  • In the second year, July 2019 to July 2020, yard trimmings collected increased to 1,031 tons; and
  • During the third year, July 2020 to date, over 964 tons of yard trimmings have been collected.

With the help of residents, Environmental Services has diverted more than 2,752 tons of material from the landfill in the first three years of the program.

Each year, program participation continues to increase, and more residents request a yard trimming roll cart for their household. Currently, 4,800 or 70 percent of Los Alamos County residents have a yard trimming cart at their residency.

What are some challenges with this program?

As the program is in its infancy stage, Environmental Services continues to educate residents about how to properly use the yard trimming cart. The biggest challenge with this program is contamination. Staff have noticed household trash, plastic bags, construction debris, treated wood and other unacceptable items in yard trimming roll carts. These items are problematic because it contaminates the material and if not caught and removed, this will end up grinded and turns into tiny of bits of litter in the mulch and compost operation. This program relies on the residents to be cautious about what they put in their yard trimming roll carts.

What is acceptable and not acceptable in the yard trimming roll cart?

Acceptable items in the yard trimming roll cart includes: branches (not to exceed 36” length and 4” diameter), the lid should be closed, this is important or it can jam up the truck and cause damage to the equipment, flowers, grass clippings, leaves, pine needles, and pinecones. If your yard trimmings are placed in a paper bag, you may place it in the yard trimming cart.

Non-acceptable items include: trash, plastic bags, animal waste, treated wood/ lumber, railroad ties, construction debris, tree stumps, ash, concrete, dirt, rock, bottles, metals, or plastics. Any yard trimming material placed in a plastic bag in the roll cart will not be collected. Please make sure your lid closes and that you are only putting organic yard trimmings.

How is the Yard Trimming Material Used?

Once the yard trimming carts are serviced, the material is transported to the Los Alamos County Eco Station, where it is checked for litter or any unacceptable debris, next it is processed into mulch.  Mulch is a valuable landscape material that can be applied topically around plants and is used to help retain soil moisture, keep roots warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A portion of mulch is transported to Bayo Canyon where it is mixed with bio-solids and transformed into a nutrient rich, compost.

What services does Environmental Service offer?

Compost and mulch are available for residents and businesses free of charge for self-loading customers or $3.00 per cubic yard loading fee. To comply with state law, the Eco Station requires all loads to be tarped before leaving the facility.

Environmental Services also provides delivery service to customers who request larger quantities of landscaping material. The service charge is $71/hour (minimum one hour) and $3.00 per cubic yard loading fee. If residents have additional brush material, they can request a special collection for $25 a pickup (rules apply). Additionally, residents that pay for curbside collection receive twelve free of charge loads each calendar year to dispose of trash, yard trimmings, etc. at the Eco Station or Overlook Collection Center.

As the yard trimming program continues to grow, Environmental Services would like to thank Los Alamos County residents for their continuing support in the program. If you are a resident and would like to participate in the yard trimming program, please visit the Los Alamos County Environmental Services webpage www.losalamosnm.us/gogreen, click on the “Roll Cart Request” tab on the left hand side, and fill out the online form.

For any additional questions or concerns, contact Environmental Services at 505.662.8163 or solidwaste@lacnm.us.

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