Drought Shrinks Flow of Yard Trimmings, Reduces Composting Bill

Quantities of yard trimmings reaching the Sunnyvale Materials Recovery and Transfer Station (SMaRT Station®) have decreased during the current drought. During Fiscal Year 2013/14, residential yard trimmings received from the SMaRT Cities (Mountain View, Palo Alto and Sunnyvale) were down 6.6% compared to the previous year. The decline varied by city, with total tonnage and the change as follows:

Mountain View

6,018         FY 2013/14 Yard Trimmings (tons)
-6.6%        Change from FY 2012/13

Palo Alto

12,956       FY 2013/14 Yard Trimmings (tons)
-5.3%        Change from FY 2012/13


13,800       FY 2013/14 Yard Trimmings (tons)
-7.8%         Change from FY 2012/13


32,774       FY 2013/14 Yard Trimmings (tons)
-6.6%        Change from FY 2012/13

The effect is presumably due to reduced growth of trees, shrubs and grass plant growth as they are irrigated less by rainfall and residents who are conserving water. The change has a financial silver lining. Because compost facility charges are based on the number of tons received, total SMaRT Station payments to the compost facility decreased by approximately $60,000 compared to FY 2012/13.

The SMaRT Station is a 1500 ton per day plant built in 1993 and located in Sunnyvale. Operated under a contract with Bay Counties Waste Services, it uses a mixed waste processing system to extract recyclable materials and compostable “fines” from garbage delivered by the three cities. Unrecycled residues are disposed at the Kirby Canyon Landfill in San Jose. On separate process lines the facility also prepares yard trimmings for off-site composting and sorts curbside recyclables collected in dual-stream carts from Mountain View and Sunnyvale residents. For more information, direct your web browser to Recycling.inSunnyvale.com.