Some of the trash Tempe homeowners put out on the curb is being turned into mulch rather than going to the landfill through an experiment the city is undertaking.
Tempe is collecting yard waste for composting in select parts of the city to determine whether it can save money by hauling less material to a landfill.
Since starting in February, the city has collected 2,700 tons of waste to be mulched, said John Osgood, Tempe’s deputy public works director. The city is sharing the compost with its residents and using it at city parks. The city has been able to reduce chemical and water use with the mulch, he said.
“The idea is that in the spring when we come up on the growing season, our parks department will purchase that compost and use that on our golf fields and athletic fields,” Osgood said.
Tempe is trying the effort in three parts of the city, collecting yard waste along with the monthly pickup of uncontained bulk material. About 2,100 homes are the areas. The city asks residents not to include palm fronds because of their high salt levels, or the poisonous oleander.
The city is working to remind homeowners to keep contaminants out of the yard waste, Osgood said, but generally has seen that residents are cooperating.
“I think people understand the concept and they’re willing to recycle it or separate it,” he said. “There is less material getting to the landfill and there’s more going to our green waste program.”
This is at least the third attempt Tempe’s made to compost yard waste. Two other efforts were smaller and ended because it would be too costly to expand them citywide, Osgood said. Too much equipment was needed with the other attempts, but Osgood said the current collection method hasn’t required any additional vehicles.
The city is studying the effort, including potential cost savings, and plans to review the program in March. The neighborhoods in the program are Alta Mira, Mitchell Park, Los Tesoros, Mission Ridge, Tempe Gardens, Superstition, MapleAsh and Circle G.