Recycling On Golf Courses
Today's world has placed a renewed emphasis on both voluntary and mandatory recycling. New technology has given many former waste products a second chance. GCSAA supports the recycling effort and encourages its members to conserve and recycle.

Recycling is a process that leads to the reuse of wastes. This process consists of collecting, transporting, sorting/grading, storing and processing. Golf course wastes that can be recycled include used motor oil, tires, batteries, cardboard, pesticide rinsate, grass and tree clippings, solvents and, in some states, pesticide containers.

Recycling makes economic and environmental sense. By reducing waste disposal, landfill space can be preserved. Some experts estimate that grass clippings and yard wastes make up 20 percent of all landfill wastes. In some states, this rate is almost as high as 50 percent. The Environmental Protection Agency projects that half of the country's 6,000 landfills will reach capacity and close by the late-1990s. Therefore, some states are passing recycling mandates and legislation banning yard wastes from landfills.

Golf course superintendents in many states are faced with legislation aimed at specific types of wastes generated by golf courses. Many superintendents voluntarily recycle even though there are no mandatory state laws requiring participation in recycling programs. As landfill disposal costs begin to rise, recycling may become the most economical method of waste disposal.

Whenever possible, superintendents recycle grass clippings:
Grass clippings can be recycled by spreading them along the rough and around trees. Composting the clippings is also an option. Compost is an excellent growing medium that promotes fast germination and can reduce fertilizer use. Recycling grass clippings provides valuable nutrients that improve the soil.

Whenever possible, superintendents recycle pesticide rinsate:
An alternative to disposal of pesticide waste is recycling pesticide rinsate in the field. According to an EPA research workshop, pesticide rinsate recycling is "economical, technically uncomplicated, provides total containment, may be adapted to specific site situations and minimizes the amount of wastewater that must be treated and disposed of." Superintendents who utilize this practice are encouraged to build a catchment and storage system for pesticide rinsate intended for reuse. This facility should be in compliance with state and local regulations.

Used tires and motor oil can be recycled:

Used tires and motor oil from golf course maintenance equipment and golf cars can also be recycled. Tire and oil distributors and local recycling companies should have information regarding recognized tire and motor oil recycling centers.

Trends in state waste reduction and recycling:
Legislation in effect in some states:
  • Banning certain materials -- such as lead-acid batteries, oil, tires and yard wastes -- from landfills.

  • Assessing advance disposal fees on the purchase of hard-to-dispose-of products.

  • Encouraging or requiring composting of yard waste.

  • Making the state a market for recycled goods by requiring or encouraging state agencies to buy products made from recycled materials, to use compost material whenever possible and to recycle their own wastepaper.

  • Offering tax incentives to companies or organizations that buy recycling equipment.

  • Providing funds for private research and development and low-interest loans to recycling companies.

  • Requiring recycling instruction in schools.

  • Financing processing centers for recyclables.


You can work with your superintendent to start a community recycling program:

Information on setting up community programs can be obtained from the following organizations:
  • Solid Waste Association of North America, P.O. Box 7219, Silver Spring, MD 20907-7219 (Tel. 301/585-2898).

  • Keep America Beautiful, Mill River Plaza, 9 W. Broad St., Stamford, CT 06902 (Tel. 203/323-8987).


 Greentips are published by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and are designed to help those involved in golf course management keep the golfing public informed about practices on golf courses. The information provided in this publication is advisory only, and is not intended as a substitute for specific manufacturer instructions or proper training in the use, application, storage and handling of the products or processes mentioned. Always read and follow label directions. Use of this information is voluntary and within the control and discretion of the reader.
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