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Got mulch? Giveaway for Earth Day in Hillsborough County

A large bucket of composted ground cover will be given to residents on Saturday.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Hillsborough County is finding new and creative ways to preserve space in our landfills and recycle waste. It's a compost blend they've been studying for years and as we celebrate Earth Day this weekend, they want to share some of that with residents.

This is not just any pile of dirt, this is a county-created, safe compost that can be used as a ground cover around your shrubs, bushes, trees and flower beds. This type of recycling is helping reduce waste.

The magic happens at the county's Southeast Landfill in Lithia. It's here where the county combines tons of mulched yard clippings and biosolids, or treated wastewater byproducts, to create the compost.

The two ingredients are put together in piles under a huge tent where they are churned together. The mix heats up in excess of 130 degrees to kill off any dangerous materials.

Ron Wiesman is one of the managers at the landfill. 

"What we've done is, we did a pilot study on composting with these two waste streams and we found out it was beneficial for the county to more or less recycle and marry these two products together and with that we're very fast 70-90 day turnaround from start to finish where this compost is going out the door," he said.

The county actually sells this material for commercial use, so they are making money from two waste products. The compost actually protects against plant diseases and helps the soil retain nutrients, air and water and has a neutral PH.

Residents will be able to pick up a 5-gallon bucket full of this compost starting at 9 a.m. Saturday. The first 200 cars also get a 1 gallon native plant or tree from Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, so it's a great way to celebrate Earth Day. 

Find out more information about the event here.

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