The Economics of Yard Waste Composting in Westchester County, New York
Composting is a demonstrated, cost effective, and environmentally beneficial technique for managing a large portion of the solid waste stream, Yard waste--leaves, grass, brush, branches, and other woody waste--can be separated easily so that it does not actually become waste, Instead, yard wastes can be processed into usable horticultural products such as compost, mulch and wood chips, This report shows that home, municipal and regional composting of yard waste can reduce the net economic and environmental costs of solid waste management in Westchester County, From a municipal perspective, municipal and home yard waste composting can yield net savings of $2-25/ton and $62-$133/ton, respectively. Composting can save solid waste transport costs, avoid tipping fees, reduce soil amendment expenditures, lower yard waste processing costs and, in the case of home composting, reduce collection costs. An overall yard waste management strategy in the County should begin with promotion of municipal leaf composting and home composting of all kinds of yard waste. Brush and wood chipping, as well as incorporation of grass clippings with leaves for composting, can subsequently be added to the municipal programs. Municipal yard waste composting sites can be established within municipal boundaries or through arrangements with a neighboring local government for access to a yard waste composting site. The County could purchase specialized yard waste processing equipment and schedule its use at local government composting sites.
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Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University