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DEP Urging Communities, Residents To Compost, Mulch Fall Leaves

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The leaves are everywhere - yards, parks, streets and sidewalks.

For many communities, it takes a lot of work and money to remove them and follow the guidelines from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The leaf guys are extremely busy, vacuuming up leaves and properly disposing of them. So what do you do with them?

"While we can't tell the communities exactly what to do, we have been advising them to compost their leaves or mulch them," says the DEP's John Poister.

Communities like Robinson Township have their own compost operation. They dump the township's leaves into a shredder, and eventually it turns to compost.

"Residents come up and take it, some of the townships take it, Greater Pittsburgh Airport uses a lot of it," says Joseph Bonkowski, of Robinson Township Public Works.

It makes great fertilizer for your lawn, trees and plants. And it's much better for the environment. You get to reuse the leaves and you're not unnecessarily filling up landfills. There's not much landfill property left.

That's what the DEP urges communities to do.

"This is something that can be easily taken out of the waste stream and really beneficially reused as fertilizer, and we've been advising communities to do that for a long time," says Poister.

But removing leaves is getting expensive for some communities. The hope is that folks will start mulching their leaves or making their own compost, saving taxpayers money.

"One of the things that we can do is we have tips on home composting. People can set up their own compost piles and not even rely on the community to pick up their leaves," Poister says.

For more information on home composting, visit the Pennsylvania DEP website here.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Public Works will be collecting leaf and yard debris this weekend. There will be a special curbside collection Saturday. You have get your debris to its normal collection site by 6 a.m.

Residents must bag leaves in paper bags. Leaves in plastic bags will not be accepted. For more information on the collection, click here.

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