Recycling Center Leaf and Plant Waste

Recycling Center Leaf and Plant Waste Collection Program
Posted on 05/09/2024

This is an annual reminder that the Town of Wilton’s Recycling Center collects leaf and plant waste. Although property owners, managers, and landscapers are strongly encouraged to sustainably collect leaves, grass clippings, and other plant-based yard waste for composting and reuse, residents and property owners within participating communities have the option to dispose of this organic material at the Wilton Recycling Center according to its rules. As a friendly reminder: Should you choose to dispose of the leaves and yard waste, be sure to keep it separate from the other brush piles in the disposal area. Users are free to dispose of leaves in large paper leaf disposal bags, bag and all!

What’s the deal with this message?  I thought the town already collected yard waste?

As you may know, leaf and yard waste has been collected at the Wilton Recycling Center for many years now, but since 2022, regulatory changes in the Town of Wilton have created a new imperative for managing leaves, grass clippings, and other yard waste.

Specifically, Wilton’s MS4 Stormwater area was recently assigned a phosphorous impairment.

What is a phosphorous impairment?

While the details of this impairment and federal stormwater regulation are likely too complex to fully describe here, it basically means certain water bodies within the Town of Wilton have been found to possess too much of particular minerals, nutrients, or other matter.  A practical impact of this new assigned phosphorous impairment is that it imposes additional obligations on the Town of Wilton through its federally required Stormwater Permit. One of these obligations includes being more aggressive about leaf collection and yard waste disposal.

As a further explanation, to quote a US Geological Service study about the issue:

 “…. Excessive amounts of nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) in stormwater runoff can accelerate the effects of eutrophication in [water ways and water bodies], leading to algal blooms which can block sunlight for aquatic plants, clog the gills of fish, reduce levels of dissolved oxygen, and produce toxins that are harmful if ingested. While the sources of nutrients to [municipal stormwater systems] are many, a primary contributor is often decaying organic materials like leaves. This "organic detritus" can be especially significant in urban areas with dense overhead tree canopy. Rain and melting snow percolates through freshly fallen or already decaying leaves on streets and washes into storm drains that are typically routed directly to receiving water bodies. The leaves continue to decay, releasing excess phosphorous and nitrogen into local streams and lakes.”

Disposing of leaves, grass clippings, and other yard waste before it affects impaired water ways is seen as a way to radically reduce excessive nutrients in impaired waterway systems. By reducing you’re helping to save tax dollars and help clean up the environment.

Here is a helpful link to a University of New Hampshire FACT SHEET on Composting for the Home Gardener.

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