• Ventura County Star: Christmas trees recycled into mulch - Thursday, January 8, 2015 at



    By: Rachel McGrath

    OXNARD, CALIF. - About 30,000 Christmas trees thrown out of homes in Ventura County are being recycled at Agromin's green waste recycling center in Oxnard after this holiday season.

    The trees, delivered by trash-hauling companies or dropped off by residents, are turned into mulch and compost for use by local farmers, landscape gardeners and the public.

    Dave Camarillo, site supervisor at the facility at 6859 Arnold Road, said tens of thousands of trees are also being processed at the company's other sites at Limoneira Co. in Santa Paula and the Simi Valley landfill off Madera Road.

    Agromin expects to recycle about 100,000 Christmas trees over the next few weeks.

    Recycling center employees comb through the dropped-off Christmas trees four times to find and remove anything nonorganic, Camarillo said, including plastic, ornaments and lights. Then the trees pass through a chipper and grinder that spews out mulch into vast piles on the site.

    "We cook it for 30 days, water it, monitor it, then we'll mix it and screen it, and then you've got compost," Camarillo said. "The compost is used for plants, agriculture, nursery mixes, bagging products. You name it, we make it."

    Camarillo said the internal temperature of the big rows of mulch can reach up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. That heat is what kills off bacteria, such as fecal coliform and salmonella.

    The mulch piles are sprayed with water to control the dust as the ocean breezes sweep across the site near Naval Base Ventura County.

    Agromin is allowed to have up to 10,000 cubic yards of mulch at its Oxnard facility under the conditional use permit granted by the county. The facility must also adhere to regulations and standards determined by the county and the state.

    Trash-hauling companies are not allowed to place green waste in landfills, so they pay Agromin to recycle it.

    Camarillo, whose brother Bill Camarillo is CEO of Agromin, has worked for the company for 25 years and oversees 15 employees at the Arnold Road recycling center. He said Agromin recycles about 340,000 tons of green waste per year.

    Agromin sells the compost in various mixes direct to consumers and businesses at the Arnold Road facility and also bags and sells it through garden centers.

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