Communities Experiment With High-Tech Collection Method

Edmond, Okla. - The city of Edmond, Okla., is using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to implement weight-based variable rates for waste collection.

With RFID, a battery-free tran-sponder identifies the owner of the bin for billing purposes.

Sam McNeil-and, superintendent of the city's sanitation department, said that 1,500 bins have been distributed as part of a six-month evaluation. After the evaluation is complete, bins will be distributed to the rest of the city's 17,000 residents.

Within two years, the city's gar-bage trucks are expected to feature mobile scales and on-board computer systems. Each truck will feature a TIRIS (Texas Instruments Registration and Identification Sys-tem) reader, which interrogates the transponder on the bin with a supply of low frequency energy. This supply powers the transponder, which returns a signal carrying the 64-bit identification code. The transaction, which takes less than a second, can be uploaded to a computer for billing at the end of the route.

According to McNeiland, this system is helpful in a city like Edmond, where large families or residents with large yards may generate more trash than others.

Other cities have turned to RFID for collection. The town of Trumbull, Conn., is using radio frequency technology on commercial garbage trucks to bill haulers for commercial and residential trash brought to the local transfer station. In Dresden, Germany, transponders have been installed on 80 trucks as a way to reduce wasted time at the city's trash deposit site. And in Maroochy, Australia, the city has mounted transponders on recycling bins so residents can get reimbursed for items they recycle.

Manhattan Museum Brings Environmental Exhibit To Children New York - At the Urban Tree House, today's environmental issues have been translated into three floors of interactive activities for children to see and touch.

The outdoor learning center, which is a seasonal exhibit at the Children's Museum of Manhattan Sussman Environmental Center, is a departure from traditional teaching methods such as lectures and films. Instead the center has taken a hands-on approach to educating children on environmental issues.

At the Urban Tree House, inner-city teenagers, referred to as "Green Teens," show children the cycles materials go through in a city ecosystem. This includes composting; rain and drain-age; papermaking; the types of materials recycled; and what happens to recyclables after processing.

In exchange, the Green Teens receive academic credit, work experience, insight to a possible career choice and encouragement to stay in school. The program seeks to encourage students that have low achievement levels at school.

Lever Brothers Co. has underwritten the outdoor facility. The company's display on plastics recycling allows children to see a plastic bottle go from the supermarket shelf, through the washing and sorting phases and into post-consumer uses. One interactive process allows the children to grind, wash, sort and melt the plastic, while another illustrates the different properties of assorted plastics.

An estimated 150,000 children are expected to visit the Urban Tree House.

Energy Authority Helps Reclaim Portions Of New York Landfill Tonawanda, N.Y. - An experiment investigating the feasibility of landfill reclamation is underway at the City of Tonawanda Landfill.

Through a research program sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, portions of the landfill are being excavated using conventional surface-mining technology. Screens and magnets separate soils from the excavated wastes to recover materials like metals, plastics and any combustible material such as wood and paper.

The recovered soil is evaluated for potential uses as daily landfill cover, in building applications or as a substitute compost. The scrap metal recovered is recycled and the energy content of combustible materials is under study.

Once the material buried in an existing landfill is excavated, the recovered site can be upgraded into a state-of-the-art landfill or redeveloped. The Tonawanda Landfill project will help determine which alternative is most economical for the city - landfill reclamation or closure.

Across New York, the Energy Authority has selected five other sites to conduct landfill reclamation studies. A reclamation project in Edinburg. Saratoga County was one of the first landfills in the nation to show that this technology may be an economical alternative to conventional landfill closure.

If the study reports the Tonawanda site suitable for reclamation, the city may be eligible for funding from the State Department of Environmental Conservation Landfill Closure Assistance Program.

A final report on this project is expected in December.

NREL Concludes PVC Is Not Related To Dioxin Emissions Golden, Colo. - A report published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, Colo., concludes that removing polyvinylchloride (PVC) plastics from municipal solid waste (MSW) will not reduce emissions of dioxin when MSW is combusted to produce energy.

As part of the study, NREL reviewed the test data in published literature. The results showed that the presence of PVC in the MSW does not have any bearing on the available control measures, which can limit dioxin emissions from combustion of MSW below regulatory levels. According to NREL, the primary focus of the report is emissions and therefore does not include any hazard or risk analyses.

As part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy from Municipal Waste Program, NREL subcontracted with the Solid Waste Association of North America to conduct the study used in the report. For a copy of the report, Polyvinylchloride Plastics in Municipal Solid Waste Combustion, contact: Sally Evans, NREL Document Distribution Center, 1617 Cole Blvd. Golden, Colo. 80401; (303) 231-1000.

Los Angeles Seeks Alternative Uses For Recyclable Products Los Angeles - The City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works has launched a project to help close the loop on recycling at an unlikely location - the landfill.

According to the city, more than 800,000 recycled bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic will be used to build a liner cushion at the city's Lopez Canyon Landfill. City officials said this amount equals the number of PET bottles collected in a five-week period from the 440,000 households participating in the city's curbside collection program.

The city expects the new liner to be efficient , save space, meet new Environmental Protection Agency regulations and, in accordance to city goals, use recycled materials.

The project is scheduled to be complete by March of 1994.

Further efforts to create a demand for materials collected within the city include another recycling project underway at the Lopez Canyon Landfill. A new road, the Haul Road Realignment Project, is being constructed using a demolition debris called crushed miscellaneous base (CMB) in addition to 20 percent recycled asphalt.

Landfill Gas Sought As Possible Fuel For Wisconsin Plant Janesville, Wis. - Two abandoned landfills that have been declared hazardous by the federal government may provide enough methane to help power a nearby pen plant.

The city of Janesville, Wis., Wisconsin Power & Light and local manufacturer Parker Pen are studying the possibility of routing methane gas from the two 18-acre landfills directly into the Parker Pen plant.

"If the economics are there, we would like to do it," says John Houseman of Parker Pen. He said he would like to draw benefits from the gas generated at the Janesville landfill and replace natural gas with methane for manufacturing purposes.

The Chicago office of Woodward-Clyde Group Inc. is designing plans for the cleanup of the site, including extracting gas, treating groundwater and placing caps on the landfill. The city of Janesville and Parker Pen have agreed to cover the costs of the proposed $14.6 million cleanup.

"A lot depends on pricing," said Jim Maple, a manager at Wisconsin Power & Light. The Wisconsin utility is interested in using methane to run engines, power boilers and supply cooling power. "It makes good sense to conserve electricity instead of being wasteful," he said.

Woodward-Clyde projects the extraction systems will not be in place until 1994 and that they would begin operating in 1995.