Ever wonder what happens to the leaves after the Department of Public Works collects them? Or the Christmas trees being left out on the curb? Leslie Malone of UDC’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences has the answers.
by Leslie Malone
The second week of January is usually when DPW wraps up its fall leaf collection program, which begins the first week of November. The loose leaves that homeowners rake into treeboxes get vacuumed up and sent off for composting. Bagged leaves are collected with the trash.
If you have a Christmas tree and wish it to be chopped up for compost, now is the time to set it out for collection. The trees and greenery DPW pick up by this Saturday will be composted.
It goes without saying, but DPW encourages people to carefully inspect the trees for stray ornaments and tinsel before they put them out for collection!
Stephen Lezinski of DPW’s Solid Waste Management Administration reports on how much DPW collects from homeowners each year:
- 5,000 to 8,000 tons of loose leaves, which are sent to Pogo Tree‘s composting site in Maryland. DPW has a long-term contract with Pogo, which is located in Brookeville, Maryland, about 25 miles away from DC.
- 200-300 tons of Christmas trees, also and sent to Pogo for composting.
And what we get in return: About 2,000 tons of compost goes back to DPW. Residents can pick up free compost at Fort Totten during the week and on Saturdays. For directions and details visit dpw.dc.gov/service/fort-totten-transfer-station.
For future reference, here’s how you can help the District’s fall and winter composting efforts (from DPW’s web site):
- Rake leaves into the treebox space the weekend before your street’s collection weeks.
- Please – leaves only! Tree limbs, bricks, dirt, rocks, etc., will damage the equipment and delay collections.
- Prevent fires, parking problems and possible flooding by placing leaves in the treebox space, not in the street. When it rains, leaves will block the storm drain and cause flooding.
- Please do not put holiday trees and greenery in plastic or cloth bags.
Any trees not collected by January 10 will be picked up by the trash trucks as space allows.
Tomorrow: UDC’s composting efforts, and advice for home composters.