Power To Save: Transformation From Leaves To Compost

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SCRANTON -- Leaf pickup has been in full swing in many communities recently, but what happens to those leaves if you rake them all up and put them at the curb.

Load after load of leaves get dumped at the Lackawanna Recycling Center in Scranton.

There are towering piles of leaves and other yard waste all over the facility along Boulevard Avenue. And all of it is just the start; fall isn't over yet.

"What you see here is only half the pile. It'll just keep coming and double the size of this pile," said Jim Kane at the Lackawanna County Recycling Center.

"We have three massive trees in front of our house and we've been collecting leaves since the second to last week in October," said Michelle Getz of Dunmore.

Getz had her car jammed with bags of leaves from her lawn to dump there. She didn't wait for the borough to pick them up. She's pretty amazed at what happens to all the leaves once they get here.

Jim Kane walked us through the process that transforms all that foliage into something useful again.

It starts by grinding it all up and putting into row after row.

About four times a year a machine comes through and stirs all the rows up, gets all those biological agents working, lets nature do its thing.

"It cooks, the microorganisms that are in it. It just keeps breaking everything down, the moisture and minerals that are in it."

A machine sorts it all out and takes out the stuff that shouldn't be dumped, like plastic bags and buckets.

In about a year's time, you end up with nutrient-rich compost to mix with topsoil, planting a garden or a lawn.

"I've used it myself at my house and the grass does turn green. You will get tired of cutting your grass. The nitrogen in it makes everything grow," Kane said.

It's a valuable product for growing things around the house, made from the leaves that fell there the year before.

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