Composting refuse produce - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Composting refuse produce

WAUSAU (WAOW)—Most produce that isn't sold in grocery stores is thrown away and ends up in landfills.  But a Wausau organization is recycling refuse food into a product they say is profitable for the planet.

"The best way to help the environment is to recycle, and we're trying to do our part by composting" Sylvia Slivicke of Hsu Landscape and Greenhouse Supply told Newsline 9.

The company collects unsold produce from Wisconsin grocers and composts it at their headquarters, T6500 County Road W, Wausau.  Since April 2010 they have composted over 1.5 million pounds of food that would otherwise be in landfills. 

Hsu brings in nearly 20,000 pounds of produce each week, though Slivicke says she notices an uptick in the supply arriving each fall.

"We're bringing in a lot more due to the fact that your having your pumpkins and gourds and all that stuff that's just rotting away in those grocery stores" Slivicke said. 

Because of the organic matter in compost windrows, the internal temperature of the piles stays between 140 and 150 degrees all year long.  Keeping temperatures elevated is an important part of the process in making compost and keeping the microorganisms producing compost alive.  

"The microorganisms are like humans, we need to have water, we need to have oxygen, and we need to have food" Hsu Landscape and Greenhouse Supply's Dennis Brusky said.  .

Composting involves breaking up organic matter into smaller pieces that can break down faster.  According to Slivicke the process puts nutrients back into the soil. 

"I like to say it's essentially like taking a vitamin" she said.

Working on a large scale Hsu uses a compost turner, a machine capable of dicing a pile of composted material seven feet high and 14 feet wide.

After the process is repeated several times over a period of a few months, it is added to soil to improve its ability to foster healthy plants. 

 "You can add this to any kind of soil and it will make the perfect growing medium" Brusky said.

Online Reporter Rob Duns (WAOW)   

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