A leaf recycling project at Calderdale Council is helping them to conform to green waste issues and environmental regulations. Mark Dempsey reports on how the project is shaping up.
Climate change is one of the biggest issues confronting the world today and recycling in any form can only be encouraged. Municipal park managers face the double edge sword of how to manage green waste issues, and conform to stringent environmental regulations within tight financial constraints. Members of Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire are proactively managing to find some solutions to this difficult and complex problem.
The Parks and Streetscene section are recycling 1000 tonnes of leaves, which have been collected from the roads around the borough of Calderdale into useable compost.
The project has been evolving for a few years. Mark Dempsey, Parks and Streetscene Section, Support Services Manager said "We initially had the idea after seeing a project in Epping, Essex where a golf course was being topdressed with recycled compost. Other influences over the years have been a visit to Sita's processing area at Clifton Moor, Preston, an amenity sports trial set up by Bingley Sports Turf Institute and seeing municipal compost production facilities in Voorschoten in the Netherlands.
We had the idea and knew it could be done. We took a huge risk in applying over 300 tonnes to Wellholme Park, Brighouse, last spring during National Composting week. To do this so near to the parks Annual Gala day, and also the initial green flag judging day for the park, was a bold thing to do but the manager of the park, Brian Mansfield, was keen and confident to have a go at applying the composted material. Fortunately, it was a success."
Since then the Parks and Streetscene section have spent £130,000 on a capital investment to improve Calderdale's park depots, with schemes such as holding bays for materials used regularly in parks, such as horse manure and green waste.
They have also had to address foul and contaminated run off leachates to sewerage and drains. Another significant breakthrough for the section was being allowed to use a concrete bund 20 metres x 30 metres x 3 metres high at one of the council's facilities. Having this facility meant that they could now begin to process up to 1000 tonnes of leaf cleaning waste into compost.
The process takes only 6 weeks to complete - initially mixing leaf waste with woodchip at a rate of 4 to 1. Stacking, turning and screening to remove large items of debris and litter contamination. Temperatures of 55°C have been recorded.
"The project has very been popular with the staff from both the parks and street cleaning sections, who are working well together. One of the problems we have experienced is the lack of space, so we are already looking to find alternative storage sites for the processed compost" states Mark.
Another milestone for the project has been a successful funding bid received from Recycling Action in Yorkshire, who granted £20,000 towards the project. "We would have gone ahead with the project, because recycling is really just a case of applying commonsense. However, combined with being allowed to use the concrete bund and the extra funding the project hes been given extra impetuous. This raises the profile within the Council and also on a regional basis" says Mark.
The project has meant that officers have had to familiarise themselves with the environmental legislation. Calderdale MBC is also working towards the EMAS - environmental management system. Mark has recently passed his internal environmental auditor certificate and he will be part of Calderdale's internal auditing team
The compost material is going to be used in many different ways as an end product. Most of this will be used as topdressing at Manor Heath and Wellholme - two of Calderdale's green flag parks. It is also planned to use the compost to establish wildflower planting schemes, working with schools - which will highlight both composting and recycling issues - environmental educational events for schools, community and corporate groups.
Mark has also been working with local sculptress, Helen Harman, on another composting concept. Helen is hoping to develop the idea of grazing sheep figures, filled with compost and then sowed with wildflowers, which will grow and flower. Once established, it is intended to move the sheep around Calderdale's parks and open spaces. Mark says "I think it is a really good idea. It will be good to see a herd of grazing, sustainable, sheep which have been planted in compost that was once leaf waste."