Environmental (Yard Waste) Recycling

Yard Waste

Yard waste includes leaves, grass clippings, hedge trimmings and garden debris. Uncontaminated yard waste is banned from Monroe County landfills, but once yard waste enters a garbage truck and is mixed with household garbage, it is considered contaminated. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation estimates yard waste comprises, on average, five percent of garbage (3% urban, 10% suburban, 2% rural). Many local municipalities have seasonal programs that handle certain yard waste, diverting it from the landfill and providing a valuable resource.

A 2010 waste characterization study of Monroe County garbage found that almost 20 percent of the material going to local landfills was yard waste. This study was conducted in the springtime after weeks of good weather. While that factor may have skewed the results somewhat, it is obvious that a great deal of local landfill space is being used for yard waste that should have been handled via alternative methods.

Yard Waste Recycling/Reuse Tips

Some municipalities provide some type of yard waste service to residents. Many private lawn and landscape companies also pick up yard waste, for a fee, for composting/mulching. Residents can improve the environmental quality by handling yard waste responsibly:


  • Just leave clippings on your lawn after mowing or add some to your compost pile
  • Cut only the top 1/3 of your grass at each mowing
  • Cut your grass when it’s dry
  • Keep your mower blade sharp

It’s Easy:

  • Less work
  • More free time

It’s Economical:

  • Save money on fertilizer
  • Save money on lawn bags
  • Save money normally spent on the disposal of grass and landfills

It’s Environmentally Sound:

  • A greener, healthier lawn without thatch buildup
  • Longer life for our landfills


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has designed a poster detailing the proper way to compost household yard waste and food scraps. Click here to view.

Turning organic waste into a nutrient-rich soil supplement for your garden. The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County (585 461-1000) has detailed information on this and other environmental topics--click here. Composting is nature’s way of breaking down plant materials. It is a simple and useful way to reuse your leaves, grass, vegetable and fruit scraps which also helps to:

  • save landfill space
  • conserve water
  • reduce the need for fertilizers by returning nutrients to the soil
  • grow healthier plants

Curbside Food Waste Composting Service

A private company is currently offering curbside food waste composting service in a limited market area pilot program. Click here for details on this service.

Easy Composting (A Quick Guide)

You don’t need to spend a lot of time or money to make your own compost. All you need is:

  • a convenient, out-of-the-way area.
  • 2-3 parts brown materials (leaves, small twigs, straw).
  • 1 part green materials (grass, dead plants, fruit and vegetable scraps*).
  • water to keep the compost pile as moist as a wrung out sponge.
  • air to allow your compost pile to breathe. Just mix the pile every couple of weeks.

An “active” pile can produce valuable compost in less than one year.

*Meats, fats, salad dressing, pet wastes and bones should not be added to a compost pile.

Troubleshooting Help

Troubleshooting Help
Symptom Problem Solution
Center is dry needs water moisten while turning pile
Rotten egg odor needs air turn pile
Ammonia odor too much green material add brown nitrogen materials (leaves, twigs, soil)
Only center is damp and warm material needs more materials mix in more

Homeowners who cannot compost their leaves should contact their waste hauler or municipality for additional instructions.

Christmas Tree Recycling

For a list of programs/locations where residents may recycle Christmas Trees, click here

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