FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne has a facility where materials are processed and reused for other purposes.
Located on Lake Avenue, The Fort Wayne Biosolids facility spans 300 acres and uses materials like wood and concrete, which would typically go to landfills, and turns them into materials like mulch, biosolids and rocks used for reconstructing roads.
Biosolids are used for gardening and landscaping and are made from composted leaves from the city’s annual leaf collection program in the fall and lime from the city’s water filtration plant, which is used for treating wastewater. The lime is transferred from the filtration plant to the biosolids facility.
The public will often bring in branches and logs, often after storms happen, and the facility takes them, shreds them up and turns them into mulch that people can use for gardening and farming. People also will bring in their yard waste and bring to the facility rather than dumping them at landfills, allowing the city to keep them from becoming full.
“They take things that used to get thrown away to the landfill including lime we use at our filtration plant and create a product that the public can use,” said Frank Suarez, public information officer for City Utilities.
The public can come to the facility and pickup mulch and biosolids for free as long as you pick it up yourself. The facility does charge a fee for anyone who has the materials put into their vehicle for them. The fee for yard waste is $20 per ton, $12.20 per ton for biosolids, $10.50 per ton for lime and $5 per load for mulch.
One benefit of using biosolids for gardening is the nutrients it provides for soil.
The facility uses machines to grind up the different materials and make them available for the public.
He said the facility has been around for about 20 years and was built to help protect the environment and be more environmentally sound.
“It’s important for us to continue our mission and it’s another way of building an environmentally sound utility,” he added.
Recycling wood, concrete and leaves helps keep landfills from becoming full and prevents the city from having to expand them. The Biosolids facility currently processes 30,000 tons of biosolids per year, 50,000 tons of lime and 11,000 tons of leaves, according to City Utilities.
“The thousands of tons of materials we process here keeps them out of landfills, creating more space there, gives them a longer life and allows them to serve the community for longer,” he said.
The facility has seen many people who come pick up materials for gardening purposes and show up every year. One of those people is Deb Moran. She’s been coming to the facility to pick up biosolids since the place first opened.
“I use it for my flower beds and it helps with the soil,” Moran said. “I brought six buckets today to fill them up. I try to bring as many as I can.”
Suarez said people like using mulch to put around trees they plant and around their yards to make them look better.
“For City Utilities, it’s another way of connecting with our customers and we appreciate that,” he said.