Provo uses unorthodox recycling to save money, space

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    By Joanna Ekenes

    Although the word “recycling” may bring to mind blue bins brimming with aluminum cans, Professor Frank Williams of the agronomy department can tell you that there is much more to recycling than aluminum cans.

    “Twenty-five percent of a landfill is yard waste,” Williams said. “By removing the usable tree limbs, leaves and grass clippings, the landfill can be used 25 percent longer.”

    Last month, Provo City Public Services received the Senator Reed Smoot Award for its recycling program, in which Williams played a key role.

    “A great amount of the success of our program and credit for the Smoot award must go to Dr. Williams, and I extend my thanks to BYU for his continued substantial contributions,” said David Gunn, Provo City director of Public Services.

    Bill Rudy of BYU recycling said BYU’s green waste recycling program provides the university with the mulch needed to maintain the grounds, while saving thousands of dollars a year in waste disposal fees.

    In addition to the green waste from the grounds, vegetable and other food waste from on-campus kitchens are included in the compost, he said.

    Gunn said that the market is what drives recycling programs.

    “Everyone wants to recycle, but no one wants to pay for it,” he said.

    Gunn said the green-waste recycling program, which was founded in 1991, has saved the city over $190,000 in waste disposal fees and has earned over $100,000 in revenue, which has gone to the sanitation division.

    Residents of Provo may apply for a green-waste curbside bin to dispose of their yard waste, Gunn said.

    The waste is then ground into rough compost and formed into wind rows, which are long heaps of mulch, he said.

    It then must be maintained at an exact temperature and with a certain moisture content for 15 days in order to kill any weed seeds or harmful bacteria, Gunn said.

    After this period of careful monitoring, the mulch is rotated for 60 more days before it is ready to be sold as compost. Provo City sells the compost for $17 a yard, he said.

    Anyone interested in joining the curbside green-waste recycling program may contact Provo City Department of Public Services at 852-6701.

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