Phoenix is working with a California company to turn fronds into cattle feed, reducing landfill trash.

The partnership with Palm Silage Inc. will divert 34,000 tons of palm trimmings annually from city landfills. The company is leasing 10 acres at a city trash-recycling center in southwest Phoenix, city spokeswoman Brenda Yanez said.

The push to reclaim reusable materials like palm fronds in innovative ways is driven by the city’s ongoing move to divert about 40 percent of trash from landfills, Yanez said.

Palm Silage has operated a palm-recycling business in California for five years, but the partnership is the first time the company has worked with a city to keep fronds out of landfills, company president Gary Green said.

Cattle, horses, goats and other livestock typically don’t feed directly on palm fronds, Green said, mainly because few thought of it as a viable food source. But Palm Silage turns the fronds – which it says contains as much roughage as medium-grade hay – into a key ingredient of a casserole for cattle.

Workers collect fronds that are free of lawn clippings, palm trunks or other landscaping refuse, and stack them up to dry. The dried fronds are then ground up with four ingredients – ground dates, canola meal, wheat middlings and rice bran – that are pressed into feed pellets, he said. The pellets can be used as primary feed or as a high-fiber energy supplement, according to Palm Silage.

Landscapers and homeowners can bring palm fronds to the 27th Avenue Transfer Station, 3060 S. 27th Ave. The price of palm-frond recycling will be discounted to $24 per ton instead of the standard $38.25 per-ton rate, said Stacy Hettmansperger, operations manager for the Phoenix Public Works Department.


Story by TAYLER BROWN, Cronkite News