The Board of Directors of the Marshall County Solid Waste Management District had a presentation of the Yard Waste Feasibility Study during their meeting on Monday.

Jamie Zawila, Vice-President of GT Environmental from Columbus, OH was hired to study the need and possible location of an organic waste recycling facility in Marshall County.

She said Marshall County has a gap in services for yard waste management in the rural areas of the county.  While the city and towns provide yard waste services to their citizens, those living outside the municipalities don’t have a place to take leaves, brush, branches, and such material.   When looking at the county’s surrounding Marshall County they all have at least one option and some offer two or three options of composting facilities.   The only option for rural residents is to contain the material on their property or take it to the landfill. 

The study also estimated the amount of yard waste that could be generated in Marshall County.  The analysis looked at what has gone into the landfill from 2020, 2021, and 2022.  In the state as a whole, 7.08% is yard trimmings.  They then looked at what the county has been disposing of in the landfill and estimated an average of 3,500 tons of yard waste annually. This would be a potential feedstock for a new facility. The study also showed 17 landscaping companies in Marshall County that could be looking for a way to get rid of their yard waste.  While they tried to connect with all of them, they weren’t all willing to discuss how the get rid of their yard waste, but they know at least 202 tons of yard waste was diverted from the landfills by the landscape companies.

The recommended type of composting facility for yard waste is the Turned Windrow Composting System.  This system offers year-round capabilities with the process taking 4 to 6 months to get to a product.  They recommend a 7-acre site for the amount of material expected to be dropped off at the site.  2 acres would be for storage, 2 acres for composting, ½ acre for screening and finishing, and about 2 acres for a buffer and entrance.     


Three sites were considered, south of the current County Highway Garage on King Road, a location on Pioneer Road owned by Judith Stone, and at the county’s Gravel Pit on 5C Road.  The criteria for ranking the sites included property costs, site development, buffer zones, access, surface water management, utilities, and setbacks.  King Road was the highest-ranking location although all three sites were suitable for the yard waste facility.  Zawila did recommend a smaller site, to begin with at about 3 acres, and then grow the facility as the use increases.         

The capital cost estimate presented to the Board of Directors using the King Road site for a full-scale 7-acre site with all new equipment was $1,297,950.  There is used composting equipment available which could be purchased to reduce the cost drastically. The operating cost estimate was $217,000 and would include a full-time and part-time employee.

A way to offset the cost could be the implementation of a tipping fee.  The county could also generate revenue from selling the composting material.   

Zawila told the Solid Waste Board, “You would be operating in the negative if you purchased new equipment or if you obtained used equipment so economically it’s not a great option.”  She did offer a strategy of phasing in the facility and offering yard waste grinding and mulching operations to residents only at a cost estimate of $374,210.  In phase II the county could add in the purchase of a loader and dump truck and transition into offering services to communities and commercial operations with an estimated cost of $227,930.  Phase III would be the long-term process that creates soil compost, and the operation could purchase a new Windrow Turner with an additional cost of $74,118.    

Solid Waste Director, Marianne Peters said, “So my purpose in doing this was because I see this as a need in Marshall County.  This is as far as I can take it.  I can present it but the next step will be what you think. Do we move forward or how can we move forward, when do we move forward or not.”

Plymouth’s Street Superintendent Jim Marquardt said there is a huge need for a yard waste facility and is definitely needed.  He said the city takes their yard waste to the landfill and it’s costly. 

Commissioner Kevin Overmyer said if they were to start small, he would suggest the 5C Road location because the county already has its yard waste at that site. 

The Solid Waste board is hoping to hear from Fulton and Starke Counties yard waste facilities shortly.   

The seven-member board includes the three County Commissioners: Kevin Overmyer, Stan Klotz, and Mike Burroughs,

County Council representative Jim Masterson, Plymouth Common Council representative Greg Compton, the Mayor of Plymouth Mark Senter, and the Town Manager of Bremen Keith Fraine.