The Town of Islip developed a yard waste composting facility in 1988 as an integral part of its solid waste management plan. Located along the northern perimeter of the MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, NY, the 40-acre facility was designed to process all of the leaves, grass, tree and brush debris generated in the Town - an area of 106 square miles having a population of approximately 310,000.
Background information regarding the collection of yard waste was used as a basis for the development of an appropriate system for processing the material received from landscapers, residents and commercial carters.
Key factors considered in the original system design were:
1) an estimated 60,000 tons of material received annually; most of which would be retrieved through a separate Town-wide yard waste collection (the material would then be mixed and compacted); and
2) the need to separate and remove the non-biodegradable plastic bags in which most of the yard waste would be delivered.
A turned windrow composting system was designed to accommodate these parameters. Equipment selection, pre- and post-processing systems development and material handling procedures have been developed based on best management practices. Odor control is a high priority at the facility. The windrow systems – and all other aspects of site operations - are monitored to control odor. Process management and odor control during the composting of grass and other yard waste has been optimized by in-house scientific staff, and results have been published as part of a U.S.E.P.A. grant.
During the past decade, a number of program and process modifications have been made, including the implementation of a waste reduction campaign to encourage residents to leave grass clippings on the lawn. There also were major changes in pre-processing system design to increase the overall rate of material through-put, expand the wood waste processing capability, and develop additional products for market. Currently, all compost and mulch product produced annually at the facility is sold to commercial markets and given away - free of charge - to town residents.