Oxford considers compost-mulch program

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

OXFORD – City officials are considering the expansion of Oxford’s rubbish site, but they are also mulling an effort that could drastically slow down the amount of material that goes underground.
During a sparsely attended public hearing last week for the addition of a 20-acre tract to the city’s current 160 acres of non-garbage landfill, officials disclosed they are also considering certification that would allow the city to redistribute “light landscaping waste” – leaves, grass clippings, tree branches – as mulch or compost.
Currently, Oxford buries such materials, but if a composting permit were granted they would become organic fertilizer that could be made available to city landscape crews and possibly to the public.
“It gives us an opportunity, instead of putting into the landfill, to use the material,” said Randy Russell, superintendent of the solid waste department.
Light landscaping waste makes up 90 percent of what is buried at Oxford’s rubbish site, which averaged 3,200 tons each year from 1997 to 2003. After enacting a ban on commercial rubbish disposal in 2004, annual disposal dipped to 1,900 tons before beginning a gradual rise tied to population growth.
The compost/mulch operation is still only a possibility, as it would require both Board of Aldermen approval and authorization by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
Russell said just getting DEQ’s approval to get into the permitting process has taken more than two years.