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Harvard Recycles Its Leaves

Disposal Prohibited

By Shine MAY Hung

Ever wonder where all those brilliant red, orange and yellow leaves go after their fall season cascade to the streets of Cambridge?

The answer, my friend, is not blowing in the wind, but is determined by a city recycling ordinance which outlaws the disposal of compostable amounts of yard waste such as leaves.

According to Rob Gogan, Harvard Facilities Maintenance waste management supervisor, the ordinance effectively mandates that the waste be recycled.

Working on a daily basis during the November peak season, groundskeepers collect nearly one hundred tons of leaves each fall for composting, Gogan said.

And in 1990, two years before the city ordinance was enacted, Harvard had already adopted an environmentally sound policy of yard refuse management, Gorgan said.

A staff of 20 year-round groundskeepers who maintain 70 percent of University property rake the leaves, blow them into piles and feed them through a vacuum and shredder.

The groundskeepers then load the leaves onto trucks, which transport the waste first to a new waste corral and eventually to their treatment destination.

This year, Gogan said, Harvard administrators created a permanent site for storage of yard waste--leaves, shrubbery prunings and storm-dam-aged greenery--behind Soldier's Field adjacent to the Business School. This site provides a convenient place to deliver waste even during the off-season, Gogan said.

Gogan said there is no difference between the cost of recycling leaves and disposing of them as rubbish.

Since the fall of 1991, Harvard has contracted for leaf removal with EarthGrow, a company which creates marketable products by composting garden refuse and combining it with potting soil. These products are sold at a profit in farm stands and nurseries, Gogan said.

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