When the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania passed Act 101 – the “Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act” of 1988 all municipalities were forced to rethink their waste disposal practices.
In part, Act 101 required municipalities to separate leaf waste from other materials. Beginning on Sept. 26, 1990, no waste disposal facility was permitted to accept shipments consisting primarily of leaf wastes unless a separate composting facility was provided.
To comply with these new regulations, Lehigh County, located in southeastern Pennsylvania, set up an intergovernmental program involving 23 of the 25 local municipalities, which resulted in the establishment of the Lehigh County Organics Recycling Facility (LCORF).
“We didn’t have much to work with, only a little wheel loader,” said Timothy A. Bollinger, operations manager of Lehigh County Compost Facility. “My office was a little shed on the property. But with the cooperation of the local municipalities and Lehigh County, the composting and mulch manufacturing operation began to boom here in the early ’90s.”
Act 101 had provisions for buying equipment and increasing a facility’s processing capabilities. This provision enabled LCORF to keep up with recycling demand. However, in the fall of 2003, the county considered closing LCORF due to budgetary pressures.
It survived, but things had to change.
“We had to become more independent and eliminate our reliance on county tax dollars. We had a study done, which helped us discover ways to move forward with our facility,” Bollinger explained. “Today, just like a business, we charge for our product.”
LCORF accepts leaves, grass, brush, woody wastes and garden residues from municipalities, commercial landscapers, lawn care companies and private residents.
Today, the facility consists of more than 350 acres, 17 acres of pad space, three satellites and approximately $2.5 million worth of equipment.
“We have tub grinders, screening plants, wheel loaders, skid steers, dozers and field tractors. And we recently purchased a CEC [Construction Equipment Company] 512 Screen-It,” said Bollinger.
The CEC 512 can process many materials up 120 to 140 yds. per hour and features a charging hopper that folds out to 14 ft. wide while in its working position. In addition, it has a planetary drive, variable feed conveyor with a 48-in. rubber lagged head pulley that feeds a 5 by 12 ft. two-deck screen.
At LCORF, woody materials are ground into small pieces, cured to stabilize the surfaces, and screened to the appropriate particle size for various mulch products. The leaves and grass clippings are formed in windrows, triangular shaped rows approximately 7 ft. high in the center by 18 ft. wide at the base and approximately 200 ft. long.
The material is periodically turned using a front-end loader or the Scarab model 18 windrow turner to ensure homogeneity and to maintain proper aeration. The temperature and moisture content is monitored to ensure a consistent end product. The windrows will maintain temperatures of greater than 130F for several weeks.
Once composted, the material is screened to remove contamination, rendering it ready for final use. The finished compost is then sold to municipalities, land reclamation contractors, developers, golf courses, school districts, landscapers, nurseries, etc., which use it on a variety of projects.
LCORF purchased its CEC 512 from Plasterer Equipment, and Bollinger appreciates the screener’s performance and Plasterer’s support over the years.
“The staff that I work with — Joe Schappert [application specialist] and Jim Sagl [sales representative] — are very knowledgeable and are always ready to answer questions,” he said.
For more information, visit www.plasterer.com. CEG