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Compost Central works to “wipe out waste!”

049by Jon M. Casey
Following the cleanup from Hurricane Hugo in the late 1980s, Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte and several other municipalities, began working together to recycle waste in all its forms, but yard waste more specifically. Promoting recycling with their  Wipe Out Waste campaign, the county has met with unparalleled success. According to Stephen Hoffman, operations manager for Mecklenburg County’s Land Use & Environmental Service Agency, following Hurricane Hugo in the late 1980s, the county began yard waste recycling by leasing this site from the City of Charlotte, an 80-acre property located just south of the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. From then until now, their recycling program has grown to be one of the most successful municipal programs in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Hoffman, who hosted WHEN on a tour of “Compost Central,” Mecklenburg County’s largest of four recycling facilities and home base for the county yard waste recycling operation, noted that the success of this program has come partially because they operate their system as though it were a privately owned business. He said that in addition to this Compost Central facility, they also operate Foxhole Yard Waste Facility, Hickory Grove Yard Waste Facility and North Mecklenburg Yard Waste Facility, each strategically located around the county.
“This is not a tax based, tax funded operation,” he said. “We charge tipping fees for customers who bring their yard waste to our facilities and the funds that come from selling our products, goes to pay for the program.”
As part of his recycling fleet management plan, he said that along with one older grinder that is available for grinding as needed throughout the county, they also rotate the use of two new Diamond Z 1460B Tub Grinders, between the four facilities. Mecklenburg County recently purchased the two new units from H&E Equipment, of Charlotte. “We put the need for new grinders out for bid, and H&E won the bid with the Diamond Z units,” he said. “We took delivery on them in spring 2012. These are Tier IV CAT powered machines. They meet the latest in environmental specifications. The state of North Carolina offered us a grant to decommission our previous grinders in order to purchase these two new Tier IV units. When they arrived, CAT had engineers onsite, doing extensive testing to make sure they met all of the current specifications.”
He said that one of the two units is used to grind full time at Compost Central, and that they rotate the second unit to whichever facility has stockpiled sufficient material to warrant having the grinder in operation at that site. Since the 1460B is capable of grinding 200 to 300-yards of material per hour, it doesn’t take long to complete the job, once the unit has been set up onsite. This routine has worked well.
Hoffman said that the Solid Waste division has 55 employees, 16 at Compost Central and the remainder working throughout the county at other locations. “Much of our material comes from landscapers and other municipalities in the county,” he said. “We sell mulch, composted mulch and biomass fuel material as our product line. We are open six days per week with much of our mulch and compost business being seasonal. The biofuel is sold to a Resolute Paper plant in Rock Hill, SC.”
While it would seem that there is a huge stockpile of windrowed material at Compost Central, Hoffman assured us that it all goes out every year. “We process about 110,000 tons of material per year,” he said. “When it is the busy season, it is all we can do to keep up. We have two scales and five loaders to help speed up the process. When it is time to turn the windrows, we use the BACKHUS windrow tracked windrow turner to get the job done quickly and smoothly. The composted mulch is triple screened so that the finished product is of premium quality. We try to make sure that there are no rocks or other unwanted material in the compost.”
“We accept residential, commercial and industrial yard waste that originating in Charlotte, Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Mint Hill, Pineville, Matthews and the unincorporated areas of the county,” he said. “We prefer unbagged leaves and brush, grass clippings, limbs less than five feet in length but no tree stumps, roots, sod or dirt. Any of these may be brought to the county’s yard waste facilities.”
“We compost, hardwood mulch and nugget mulch,” he said. “For a fee that is posted on our website, the county will also deliver either by the dump truck or tractor trailer load. Products are sold on a first come, first served basis, so customers should call our office to make sure that we have what they need.” For more information on the Mecklenburg County, NC Solid Waste and Recycling program, visit their website at or give them a call at 704-588-9092.

H&E Equipment Services wins the bid with Diamond Z grinders

When the opportunity to bid on two new Tier IV-powered grinders for North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County became available, H&E Equipment sales representative Stuart Deal looked to Rule Steel, manufacturers of the Diamond Z lineup of recycling equipment to meet that need. When the results were in mid-year 2011, the sale went to H&E Equipment Services, with two new Diamond Z 1460B Tier IV tub grinders headed for Charlotte. Since the units arrived at Compost Central in early 2012, H&E has been working closely with the County to keep the grinders performing.
“With the Tier IV engine being a new application to help meet governmental regulation compliance, we wanted to make sure that these new units would perform as designed,” said Deal. “We had the local CAT dealer, Carolina CAT, come in and do a complete installation audit. Rule Steel (Diamond Z) engineers and Carolina CAT people monitored the equipment’s performance over a period of one week. Then, the data was reviewed and approved in Mid-March 2012. Since then, the two grinders have been busy grinding yard waste.”
Deal, who has been in the heavy equipment business for 38 years, 25 in Charlotte, said that the Mid-Atlantic Division of H&E Equipment Services, Inc., was formed in September 2007 when H&E bought the assets of J.W. Burress, Inc. which was headquartered in Roanoke, VA. With 12 locations throughout Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Maryland, the acquisition of this new division gave H&E Equipment Services, Inc. 66 locations nationwide. Representing more than 50 major heavy equipment companies, H&E has become one of the foremost equipment service dealers in the U.S.
“We have worked with Mecklenburg County for many years,” said Deal. “We appreciate the opportunity to serve them and the residents who look to Compost Central for their landscaping material. We know that they produce an excellent product at a reasonable price. That is because they use the right equipment for the job and they do it well.” For more information on H&E Equipment Services, visit their website at or give them a call at 877-675-0610.   


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