Town Yard Waste Composting

The Town of Colonie has operated a yard waste composting facility located on a portion of the Town Sanitary Landfill Site at 1319 Loudon Road since 1987. The Town of Colonie composting facility is approximately 5.9 acres in size and accepts between 30,000 and 36,000 cubic yards of yard wastes annually. This "raw" yard waste is converted into a finished humus soil like compost in approximately 12 weeks. During this time, the "raw" yard wastes would be ground in a horizontal grinder to reduce its size to less than 2", placed in windrows (trapazoidal piles 16' wide at the base and 6 foot in height) that are turned with a straddle windrow pile turner every week. At the conclusion of the composting process the humus compost is screened using a 6' diameter trommel screen to assure that the finished product is less than 3/4" in diameter. The Town does not add anything into the yard wastes with the exception of water and a food grade liquid odor control agent.

To enable the composting process to be completed in only 12 weeks in stead of the years that it would take to do in nature, we repeatedly mix the piles, control moisture and physically reduce the size of the materials to be managed to speed up the process. The microbial population that decomposes the yard wastes are naturally occurring in the yard waste materials. It should be noted that the Town also distributes ground uncomposted or partially composted material to local farmers for use in amending the organic content of the soils on their farms. Only stable finished yard waste compost is distributed for residential uses. Yard Waste Compost is available to the public at the Town Sanitary Landfill, Village of Colonie Department of Public Works, Village of Menands Department of Public Works, and on Conservation Day at the Town Library. The Division of Environmental Services, Highway Division, Latham Water Division, Pure Waters Division and Recreation Department all have used the composted material as topsoil for restoration after construction projects, if any is produced in excess of the needs of the residents.

The finished compost to be produced in the Town Yard Waste Composting Program is distributed to residents of the Town on a first come first served basis in the spring (May) through fall (November) for as long as the material lasts. Compost is distributed at a site to the NORTH of the residential waste transfer station. The Town of Colonie monitors the yard waste composting process and determines when the compost is acceptable for distribution. The Town provides the processing, loading, and hauling equipment, as well as labor, to break down the yard waste compost piles and move the material to the distribution area. The monitoring plan includes periodic monitoring of the yard waste piles for temperature and moisture, sampling of the yard waste for heavy metals on a semi annual basis, and sampling for pesticides and herbicides on an annual basis. Testing for moisture content is conducted upon construction of a windrow and on an as needed basis.

The compost analysis is used to assure the quality of the material is acceptable, and to provide nutrient, micronutrient and heavy metal quality information to the staff and the users of the materials. This data substantiates that the quality of the compost is excellent. The yard waste material is collected by County Waste from April to November. They move through the Town each week, collecting the yard waste from within a fire district and transporting it to the Town Yard Waste Composting Facility. Residents place their yard waste materials in biodegradable paper bags or special rigid containers that are marked by special stickers that are identified for yard waste only at the curb the night before their scheduled pickup. The contractor then observes the yard waste to assure that it meets the program requirements and then loads the yard waste into refuse style compactor trucks. Any unacceptable materials set out for collection are left at the curb and tagged with a rejection sticker. Yard Waste Materials are normally received from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on a Monday through Friday basis. Additional hours (4:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.) and days of operation (Saturday and Sunday) are utilized as needed to assure prompt collection of the yard waste materials. Processing of collected materials only occurs on a Monday through Friday schedule. Windrow Piles will be generally oriented and constructed in a North to South direction. In the summer months, water is added, as necessary, at either the horizontal grinder conveyor discharge to improve mixing or at the windrow piles. This allows for greater moisture retention in the windrows, and subsequent degradation enhancement. In 2004, we undertook the screening of compost to improve the finished compost quality. Approximately 5,000 CY of finished compost is screened in the Spring. Any yard waste received at the composting site, which is not acceptable for grinding or composting, is disposed of in the Town Sanitary Landfill.

A resident may purchase a Town of Colonie Compostable Material Sticker to identify a rigid container for yard wastes only. The private collection company can thereby identify the special containers to be collected. The stickers are sold to residents for $.50 each. The primary benefit of the rigid container is the ability to utilize reusable containers during the summer, when typically smaller volumes of woody brush and larger volumes of grass are generated. A summary of the results of the annual compost analysis is presented below: 2010 Compost Analytical Summary pH: 8-8.2 su
Moisture: 40-60 % Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen: 2.1-2.8 % (dry weight basis)
Nitrate: less than 0.02%
Ammonia: less than 0.6%
Total Phosphorous: less than 0.5%
Potassium: less than 1.5%
Chloride: less than 0.03%
Lead: less than 78 ppm*
Cadmium: less than 0.6 ppm
Mercury: less than 0.05 ppm * ppm = parts per million


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