Monsoon storms can do a number on our trees. After the wind and rain are over, all that damage needs to be cleaned up and hauled away.
But after it's picked up out of our yards, palm tree waste has a second life. If you live in Phoenix, there's a good chance it will be turned into food for livestock.
At a specially designated lot within the City of Phoenix waste transfer station on 27th Avenue sits rows and rows of palm fronds. The piles are stacked so high it takes heavy equipment to move it around.
In the past, all of this would have been sent to the landfill.
"[Palm fronds] are kind of tricky, composters, mulchers don't really like it. It's a fibrous kind of difficult, kind of difficult to process material," said Stacy Hettmansperger, City of Phoenix Public Works operations manager.
But once it's dried out and ground down, it's actually a good source of nutrients for livestock like goats, cattle and horses.
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So the City of Phoenix recently partnered with the company Palm Silage, Inc. out of California to turn the city's palm waste into edible pellets.
Palm Silage Inc. already collects palm waste from landscapers and date plantations, but the City of Phoenix is the first municipality it's contracted with.
The company started five years ago but has only begun to sell its product on the market for the past two.
In 2016, the company signed a 30-year deal with Phoenix, leasing an unused piece of land within the 27th Avenue transfer station. In April of this year, they accepted their first collection.
Already, they've piled up 2,400 tons of palm waste.
The City is paying Palm Silage Inc. to take it off their hands, rather than hauling it 50 miles to the landfill. The move could soon save the City $170,000 a year once they're running at full capacity.
The City and Palm Silage Inc. are in the beginning phases of this palm waste project. Their goal is to eventually ramp up the program, collecting 34,000 tons of fronds.
The City of Phoenix thinks it will ultimately eliminate about 3 percent of all waste sent to the landfill.
"It is definitely important because we're only going to get bigger, the population here," said Hettmansperger. "And it does help our future generations. It helps extend the life of our landfill."
The City has set a goal to divert a total of 40 percent of all waste away from the landfill by 2020.
Anyone can drop off clean palm waste at the 27th Avenue Transfer Station, located at 3060 S. 27th Avenue, Phoenix. "Clean palm" means just the fronds, no stumps or other plant material. Phoenix residents can bring in a ton of material per month for free if they bring their water bill with them.
All others, including landscapers, have to pay a fee of $38.25 per ton. That fee is reduced to $24/ton if they are part of the 'Certified Clean Palm' program.
"All they have to do is they come to a quick presentation, or oftentimes we go to them, and walk them through what clean palm is," said Hettmansperger.
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