Company turning Alachua County's scraps into fertilizer.
Gainesville Sun, April 10, 2014.

"An Alachua County company, Watson C&D in Archer, hopes to turn residents' yard
scraps  all of the scraps  into fertilizer.

Watson's roots in construction date back to 1976, and the company's 200-acre
landfill site in Archer for disposal of construction debris opened in 1988.
Those construction materials are recycled, such as wood products made into
mulch, Ryan McMeekin (general manager of Watson C&D) said.

In the past couple of years, Watson has been piloting a program to also bring in
yard waste collected from residents within the city of Gainesville and Alachua
County overall. The total yard waste collected in Alachua County averages 15,000
tons annually, and Watson received 4,800 tons of that in 2013.

In 2014, McMeekin is setting his sights on all 15,000 tons  or, acknowledging
that some is used for Gainesville's biomass plant, whatever is left over and
otherwise would end up in a landfill.

Meanwhile, Watson has been coordinating to receive organic waste from University
of Florida game days, Publix, Winn-Dixie, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club. Organic waste
includes fruits, vegetables, meat and decomposable cups, forks and bags.

The organics are combined with the yard waste, ground up and composted for six
months to create fertilizer.

"One of the greatest benefits of composting is that it simply returns the
nutrients back to the soil," Joseph Floyd, the zero waste coordinator for UF's
Office of Sustainability, said in an email. "This not only keeps nutrient-rich
food waste out of landfills, but it also eliminates the need to mine for fresh
mineral resources for fertilizers. Compost also increases water retention in
soil and helps reduce nutrient runoff into stormwater systems."

Watson is working with UF to put the fertilizer on its turf grass and its golf
course. West End Golf Course in Jonesville also is testing Watson's fertilizer.

McMeekin noted the "financial burden" in starting such a program. But he said he
hopes it will pay off in sustainable ways, such as organic materials also being
collected from residents and restaurants and more people using the natural
fertilizer instead of chemicals."

Dr. Ann C. Wilkie                          Tel: (352)392-8699
Soil and Water Science Department          Fax: (352)392-7008
University of Florida-IFAS
P.O. Box 110960                         E-mail: [log in to unmask]
Gainesville, FL 32611-0960
Campus location: Environmental Microbiology Laboratory (Bldg. 246).
BioEnergy and Sustainable Technology Society