Construction at the Balls Ford Road Yard Waste Composting Facility will start soon. The new facility, which will be constructed and operated by Freestate Farms, L.L.C., will nearly double the processing capacity of the organic materials on the site.
In addition to yard waste, the new facility will eventually include a system that will compost food waste, which constitutes about 14 percent of what currently goes into the landfill, said Scott MacDonald, the county's recycling program manager. "It's a considerable amount of the waste stream. We don't want to put that in the landfill, because we can put it to better use at the compost facility."
The initial customers for the new facility, which will use an advanced aerobic aerating system to break down the food waste, will be grocery stores, restaurants, schools and other institutions, MacDonald said. "Grocery stores want to recycle food waste, and restaurants want to recycle plate scrapings. There's a real lack of places to take food waste in this area."
A program to take residential food waste may be implemented later, after the system is up and successfully running, MacDonald said.
The first phase of the new facility includes technology that will help speed up the composting process. The current system stacks yard waste into long piles called windrows and are turned manually with heavy equipment to promote the composting process, which takes roughly nine months. The new process, which will use a series of concrete bunkers, with pipes for aeration and biofilters, will take about a third of the time, MacDonald said. "It's going to dramatically speed up the process of managing that material."
While Freestate Farms, an independent contractor that operates the facility, sells the finished compost mainly to commercial users for $22 per cubic yard, residents can also buy a minimum of a cubic yard, MacDonald said. A full-sized pickup truck can hold up to up to 2.5 cubic yards.
Residents should know that due to the construction, the Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Recycling program at the facility will be suspended beginning Dec. 1. That is a matter of safety, said MacDonald. "It's a small site. When you have construction going on, they need to be able to lay construction materials down. There'll also be extra equipment around. We're anticipating that it's going to be very difficult to run the household hazardous waste program while we're under construction. We just think it's the best thing to do for the safety of the public."
County residents will still be able to recycle household hazardous waste and electronics at the landfill at 14811 Dumfries on Wednesdays and Saturdays between10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Importantly, the Balls Ford Road Citizen Convenience Center will remain open during construction, so residents can bring trash and recyclable material, batteries and automotive fluids as usual.
Visit the county's website for more information on Solid Waste services at pwcgov.org/trashandrecycling.