To reduce the amount of material going to landfills, several municipalities in Cumberland County have constructed and operate yard waste facilities. Typically, municipal crews collect leaves and brush within the municipality on a seasonal basis and bring the materials to the yard waste facility for processing. Residents are also permitted to drop off these materials at the facility during posted hours of operation. Leaves are placed in windrows and allowed to compost. The brushy material is ground into a wood mulch and allowed to cure. The resulting compost and wood mulch is then made available to the residents, thus completing the recycling loop.
Realizing that it made no economic sense for each individual municipality to purchase, own, and maintain expensive pieces of yard waste processing equipment that would see limited use, Cumberland County decided to purchase the equipment and make it available for multiple municipal use. It was hoped the program would complement and expand existing municipal leaf and yard waste collection/drop-off programs and encourage other municipalities to develop their own yard waste management programs.
Initially, five municipalities agreed to participate in the program. In 1994 Cumberland County purchased two windrow turners and one tub grinder to enable the participating municipalities to process yard waste for beneficial re-use. Over time the number of interested municipalities grew and the re-use of the finished products increased. Accordingly, the Yard Waste Assistance Program was expanded through the purchase of an additional grinder to process yard debris, a mechanical screening device to screen debris out of the cured compost, and a top dresser to apply screened compost to parks and recreation areas. Currently, eighteen municipalities or other government agencies participate in the program.
An annual fee is charged to each participating municipality for use of the equipment.