Environmental Services: Help Reduce Contamination In Yard Trimming Carts


Los Alamos Environmental Services started the curbside yard trimming program in July of 2018. Since then, it has been very successful in collecting residential yard trimming. Currently about 4,788 or 69% of Los Alamos County residents have one-yard trimming cart at their residency. Environmental Services has also collected a total of 2,367 tons of residential brush since the start of the program. The yard trimming material is collected is turned into mulch and sometimes into compost, but only if the material is clean.

The County relies on residents to use the yard trimming cart correctly and only place acceptable materials in the cart. This helps the County to produce a clean, quality mulch or compost product that can used for landscaping and gardening projects. Acceptable items include, branches, flowers, grass clippings, leaves, pine needles and pinecones. Paper bags are okay to use and can be placed in the yard trimming cart; however, they are not required. Loose yard trimming material can be placed directly into the cart. 

More recently, more and more contamination has been observed in the incoming yard trimming material. There are trash items that should never be placed in the yard trimming cart including bits of trash, plastic bags, animal waste, dirt, metal pieces, concrete and rocks. When it’s time to grind the yard trimmings into mulch or make compost, prohibited items such as rocks, concrete, and other trash can cause significant and costly damage to the equipment. 

The final products results in mulch or compost and is primarily utilized by local residents to beautify their property. If contamination persists, there will be an increasing amount of small plastic pieces that results from plastic bags and other microplastics. Although County staff does a fair amount of work to pull out trash, we are asking for your assistance to help keep plastic and trash out of the yard trimming carts. With teamwork we can continue to make this program successful. 

If you have additional questions, please contact SolidWaste@lacnm.us.