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To Preserve Landfill, Port Jefferson Will Recycle Organic Material

Woodchips and compost will be recycled to prolong life of local landfill.

Green initiatives aren’t just good for the environment they sometimes save money for municipalities too. Port Jefferson is finding that out as it ponders what to do with its landfill.

Trustee Larry LaPointe reported to the public at a board meeting earlier this year that he went to look at the village’s landfill that encompases a 10-acre area near the golf course at the .

“Ten years ago it was a hole in the ground,” he said. Now village officials are worried that the hole is quickly filling up. His “off the cuff” estimate at the time was that the landfill had about 12 to 15 years left.

The village needed to come up with a solution or in the long term they were looking at a big problem of what to do with the tree branches, brush and dead leaves it collects from residents and around the village. One option was to truck it to Brookhaven Town’s dump but that would come with what LaPointe called a “significant expense.”

“We’re trying to find ways to avoid that,” he said.

The other option is to take the biomass that is put into the dump and reuse it. A few ideas on how to recycle what the village puts into the landfill were put forward by LaPointe. One was to turn trees and branches into woodchips and give it away free for residents.

“They do that in Southold town,” LaPointe pointed out.

The village can also give away free compost to residents who drive to the landfill and have a village employee fills them up with compost and wood chips. The remainder the village can sell to landscaping companies to regain part of the cost of running a program to recycle the material.

LaPointe said he learned something important about compost in his research.

“When you compost leaves it doesn’t smell,” he said. “When you compost grass it stinks.”

The village sought to do an analysis of the benefits of selling the compost and woodchips to landscapers and giving them away free to residents over the costs of running the program.

After talking to the New York State Department of Conservation this spring, the village decided to at least begin by using the compost to top off planting beds throughout the village.

“The compost is a beautiful dark brown and odor free because it consists exclusively of leaves picked up from our streets by Public Works Department,” LaPointe said. “No grass clippings are permitted in the landfill.”

The village also contracted with a private firm to turn all the fallen tree limbs on site to wood chips, which are also being used in Port Jefferson’s parks.

The final part of LaPointe’s proposal – giving away free compost and woodchips to residents – poses the biggest problem.

“We have yet to work out how to do this in a convenient, safe and economical way,” he said.

According to LaPointe the village is working on it and said to stay tuned for more information when they can figure it out.

What do you think of the village’s recycling program so far? Would you be able to use village compost and woodchips in your garden if they gave it away?

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Peter C. Walsh August 07, 2012 at 02:41 PM
When you give somthing away free that is otherwise sold by merchants, you undermine the merchants. Wouldn't it be better to give it to merchants with the understanding they will assume all transfer and packaging costs and sell it to residents at a significant reduction in price?

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