Compost leaves no waste
By John Danks
Plymouth's street sweepers are helping to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going into landfill sites by collecting autumn leaves for use as compost.
Autumn is that time of year when trees transform themselves from pleasant shades of green to fizzing firework reds, brilliant oranges and fluorescent yellows.
Throughout October and November those beautifully coloured leaves make another transition – from tree branch to the ground.
Nozmul Islam, or Noz as he's known, is a sweeper for Plymouth City Council's Street Scene department.
He's at the sharp end of a scheme to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going into the ground by turning fallen leaves into compost.
Nozmul Islam sweeping the streets of Plymouth
After sweeping the leaves into large piles, Noz scoops them up into blue recycling bags.
He starts work early and by the end of his day will have filled 50 bags with leaves.
"It is very healthy and keeps you fit, and I do like the walking around," said Noz.
"I like the colours that the autumn brings, but in this job the only drawback is that the leaves keep falling down on top of you as you are doing it.
"Believe it or not autumn hasn't finished from last year. Leaves have been continually falling down in bits and pieces through spring and summer. So autumn to me hasn't really started yet."
Plymouth City Council is expecting to collect over 300 tonnes of leaf fall this autumn. Previously this would have ended up in a landfill site.
Ed Heeley with the finished compost
"Essentially all we are doing is exactly the same as you would do at the bottom of your garden, but just on a very big scale," said Ed Heeley of EcoSci, the company contracted by the council to oversee the composting work.
"The leaves are brought in, tipped off and added to garden waste which comes from recycling centres.
"The material is shredded and turned, just to keep the composting process going."
It takes 16 weeks for the leaves to turn into compost which can then be used as a soil conditioner. The compost is bagged up and sold in garden centres in Plymouth and Torquay.
last updated: 12/10/07