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A New Use For Old Leaves


Every autumn, as cold weather approaches, trees begin to shed their leaves. Here in the Rogue Valley, that typically happens in mid-October through late December. For more than 20 years, Rogue Disposal & Recycling has picked up bagged leaves right at the curb for residents who live in the Medford city limits. We also pick up bagged leaves curbside in Central Point, Phoenix and White City. For those with curbside yard debris service, leaves can go into the green-lid bin. You can even bring leaves for yard debris recycling right to our Transfer Station. So where do all those leaves end up? Right back in your yard!

From local leaves to local compost

Autumn in the Rogue Valley means one thing. Leaves. They’re brilliant scarlet, golden yellow, purplish red and vibrant orange. They’re also covering your lawn, your driveway and threatening to clog the nearest storm drain. Fortunately, we have a plan: Leaves fall, you rake and we pick ‘em up. Simple! But that’s just the beginning.

After the Rogue Disposal & Recycling leaf truck goes through different neighborhoods and collects the bagged leaves at the curb, we go through all those bags to remove any contaminants. Ultimately, the leaves get mixed with other collected leaves and yard debris from homes across the area.

Once the contaminants are removed, the material is transported to the compost facility. Here, the unprocessed material is formed into windrows — long rows of piled organic materials. These leaves, lawn clippings, deadheaded flowers and other natural materials will slowly become compost.

Compost is a mixture of various decaying organic substances used for naturally fertilizing soil. In this case, it’s your autumn leaves — along with other organic materials we collect in our curbside yard debris carts.

Turning over an old leaf

For the next 12 to 18 months, the temperature in the windrows is monitored, water is applied as needed and the windrows are periodically turned. This is all part of the recipe for making compost.

When the mix is finally ready, finished compost is screened into several grades of different sizes, then prepared for sale — in bags and in bulk.

To complete the loop (or circle of life of leaves from your trees), Rogue Compost is certified by OMRI for organic use on farms and gardens, and is used throughout the area to grow crops, lawns, flowers, vegetables and even trees, starting the cycle all over again.

You can see the process in this Compost Loop

compost loop

From falling leaves (and other yard debris) to sustainable compost

So next time someone asks you what happens to all the leaves Rogue Disposal & Recycling collects each year, now you know. They become a nutritious part of Rogue Compost. And by turning your leaves into home-grown sustainable compost, we keep them out of the landfill. Think of it as the circle of life — for leaves!

Each year, our curbside leaf collection picks up approximately 1,000 tons of leaves. That’s more than 40 million pounds of leaves kept out of the landfill since the compost facility opened in 2002.

Learn more about Rogue Compost — including how it’s made, where to find it and how to order for delivery — by visiting the Rogue Compost website.


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