What is recycled mulch?
Over 100,000 tons of yard waste (leaves, branches, grass clippings, etc.) are recycled into mulch each year in Pinellas County. This includes yard waste processed by Pinellas County Utilities, cities of St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs, and several private companies. Yard waste recycling not only keeps usable material out of the landfill, but it provides free mulch for citizens. Mulch is useful for making landscaping attractive, and for saving water by reducing runoff and conserving soil moisture.
In order to be recycled, yard waste must be collected separately from garbage and delivered to a mulch processing facility. The Pinellas County Utilities mulch facility (located at Solid Waste Operations in St. Petersburg) uses a natural sterilization process prescribed by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. First, the yard waste is ground up and formed into windrows (long piles) to facilitate natural heating and decomposition. Windrows are maintained at a minimum 130°F temperature with proper moisture and aeration for 45 days. This process kills weed seeds, plant pathogens, and pest insects. The mulch goes through a final screening before it is distributed.
The clean mulch is transported to 20 free mulch sites around the County. Residents can bring a shovel, and take as much mulch as they need. Please ensure that your load is covered and secured. For large quantities (pickup truck or trailer load) and free loading, go to Pinellas County Solid Waste at 3095 114th Ave. N., St. Petersburg.
Yard Waste Recycling
There are a variety of ways to recycle yard waste. Many cities offer yard waste recycling programs (curbside or drop-off). You can contact a private yard waste recycler. You can "do it yourself" by leaving your grass clippings on the lawn which returns nutrients to the soil, using fallen leaves as mulch around plant beds, or composting your yard waste and kitchen scraps. For more information, including compost workshop dates, contact Pinellas County Extension at 582-2100, e-mail, or visit their Web site.