Government Public Works

West Hartford Public Works: Keep Grass and Yard Waste out of Trash

Mulching lawnmower. Photo credit: Ronni Newton
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The operator of waste incinerator where West Hartford’s trash is taken has notified the Department of Public Works that large amounts of grass have been found in the town’s waste stream.

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford’s Department of Public Works is asking residents to please refrain from disposing of grass clippings and other yard waste in their green barrels after receiving a warning from Covanta, the operator of the waste incinerator, that large amounts of grass have been found in the town’s waste stream.

“If this trend continues Public Works will be liable for higher clean-up and alternative disposal fees,” Director John Phillips wrote in a post on Facebook last week. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) prohibits Covanta from burning yard waste materials, he said.

Yard waste, which includes leaves, weeds, twigs, and sticks, as well as grass clippings can be turned into compost or mulch and should be disposed of properly.

The town has regularly scheduled yard waste pick-ups in the spring and fall, and residents can also drop off material, including grass clippings, at the Yard Waste and Recycling Center at 25 Brixton St. Material must be in a 30-gallon biodegradable bag or dumped directly out of whatever container in which the material is transported. Residents are required to have a permit, and commercial landscapers are permitted to bring material to the facility at a cost of $15 per yard.

Phillips said there really should be no need to dispose of grass clippings, and DEEP recommends that they be left on the lawn where they serve as a natural fertilizer.

“DEEP recommends several no-cost yard grass management practices,” Phillips said Thursday.

The Public Works section of the Town of West Hartford details the DEEP recommendations, which include:

  • Use of a “recycling” lawnmower, or removing the grass catcher to make any mower a recycling mower. Some mowers may require an adaptor.
  • Keep the grass at 2-3 inches.
  • Do not remove more than one-third of the grass height in a single mowing. Raise the height of the blade if necessary to avoid shock to the grass plants, and gradually lower it for future mowings.
  • If the grass is too high, mow over the clippings a second time to shred them.
  • Mow the grass when it is dry.
  • Keep the mower blade sharp to avoid damage to the grass.
  • When purchasing a new lawnmower, consider buying one that is designed for mulching or recycling, or a non-polluting reel mower.

For additional tips and recommendations, visit the DEEP website.

More information can also be found on the Public Works section of the Town of West Hartford website.

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  • Residents put yard waste in the trash because town does not pick it up on a regular basis. You should go back to picking it up in the summer as well as sprong and fall. Summer is prime garden time (weeds, trimming etc) Many people will not or cannot get to the dump. This is not the solution.

  • Grass is easy to deal with. Shrubs like yew or forsythia need trimming all summer. It is too much to mulch and the town doesn’t do pickups so into the garbage it goes.

    Covanta’s prohibition on burning yard waste makes no sense since I would rather have combustion products from yard waste than styrofoam cups and other plastics.

    DPW has money to replace 10000 road signs on a discretionary basis, so picking up yard waste to avoid extra disposal costs should be achievable.

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