Autumn In Pennsauken: Leaf Collection Preparation Begins

By Joe Scavuzzo, Director, Department of Public Works

Leaf collection operations generally begin in late October and complete around the end of December. Every section of town will have leaf pickup at least twice during this time. This collection is in addition to the weekly Wednesday “yard debris” pick-up, when Waste Management will pick-up your bagged leaves and other bundled yard items. We ask for your patience while we are working in your neighborhood, as our large equipment could end up blocking parts of the street or intersection.

It is highly encouraged that you bag your leaves whenever possible. However, there are parts of town, where the density of large, mature trees creates mountains of leaves. The main reason we encourage residents to bag leaves is to protect our storm water inlets along our streets from becoming clogged, preventing the flow of water from the street into the system. In addition to this, any cool fall breezes that come through won’t blow that leaf pile back onto your lawn or all over the street! The bagged leaves that are collected by Waste Management on Wednesdays are taken to Smith Orchards in Mantua for recycling. Each year, the Township compiles a tonnage report based off of the yard debris collected by Waste Management, similar to the white goods collected and our annual recycling collection; and receives credits towards our recycling grant.

Our Leaf Compost Site

Our Public Works Department operates and maintains one of the best functioning and well kept leaf composting sites in New Jersey. Each year, the state and county Department of Environmental Protection representatives who inspect our facility comment on how great the site looks in comparison to others they visit. After the compost matures, it is delivered to the Municipal Pool on River Rd., where residents can supplement their gardens at home with this nutritious soil.

The leaf composting site is located on Park Ave., resting beside the Pennsauken Creek before you cross the Burlington County line. Currently, you will view an open piece of land. Within the next month, you will begin to see the collected leaves being formed into rows, called “windrows.” Once our facility is nearing its 10,000 cubic yard capacity, you’ll notice the windrows are pointed in a specific direction. The windrow field is sloped downward to allow water to filter in a grassy area and collect at a basin. This prevents the possibility of “ponding” or stagnant water, which could breed mosquitoes and create an unpleasant odor.

This balance of Waste Management’s collection of bagged leaves and the Department of Public Work’s curbside collection ensures that we are compliant with our compost site’s permitted capacity, while clearing out 2017’s leaves. A few of you may have your own composting methods at home for the reuse of food scraps and yard debris. Although our facility only handles leaves, the process is very much the same, just on a much larger scale.

This year, the Township is replacing our 25+ year old “Wildcat” compost turner, as the availability of parts and unit reliability continues to decrease, all while our mechanic’s labor increases. As of this writing, the new Backhaus A. 36 Compost Turner is due for delivery the last week of September. Although these two pieces perform the same function, one major difference is the amount of equipment needed to perform the task. The Wildcat is an attachment that our largest John Deere front-end loader “carries” instead of a bucket, and pushes the unit through the row of leaves. For those following the mindset of Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor from “Home Improvement,” this is essentially the equivalent of strapping a jet engine with blades to the front of a tank. It is intimidating to stand next to it even while not running. The new unit is operated via a cab, mounted to the side of the turning drum and does not require the assistance of a secondary piece of equipment. If you thought I was joking when I compared the Wildcat to a tank, the Backhaus A.36 has tracks instead of tires! In conclusion, this new equipment will free-up the large loader, immediately extending its lifespan, lower the fuel needed to turn these windrows, and ensure that the most critical piece of equipment of the compost operation is dependable for the next 25 years.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach us at (856) 663-0178 or publicworks@twp.pennsauken.nj.us.

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