Cybertrash: A Virtual Reality

The emergence of waste-industry-based software and ever-improving scale design has given buyers a myriad of choices - so many, in fact, that they are overwhelmed with the possibilities. "What software system best fits my needs? How much maintenance will the scales require? Can I train my staff on this new technology without business interruption? Can the software I just bought interface with my present scale system? What will be my return on investment? Will I get burned?"

Such important questions are enough to give a buyer permanent mental whiplash. If you're confused, you're not alone. Across the nation, professionals like yourself are running pilot programs, surveying vendors, reading product literature and monitoring recent developments that alter this technological market.

As you do your research, remember that for every company you talk to that is happy with its software or scale purchase, there are others that have been sold something useless or impractical. And what works best for a competitor may not work for you. The bottom line when investigating expensive technology is a little cynicism can go a long way.

Getting Support "Ten years ago, the question was: Should we purchase a computer system or not?" said Alan Mastic at AOL Technologies (WAM), Reno, Nev. "Now that most people have computers, they are wondering how to choose a software program that will work well for them. Unfortunately, customers don't always know the right questions to ask when looking."

In order to avoid a costly mistake, you must determine your needs prior to purchase and gauge how the investment will affect your staff and business operations. Most potential buyers of software and scale systems, regardless of their computer expertise, rank training and customer support as a top priority when selecting a vendor.

"Technical, I am not," said Beaneita Hunt, compliance manager of Valley Landfill Inc., Corvallis, Ore. "I can read a manual, but I need the practical, hands-on experience to really learn how a system works."

In April 1996, Valley, a 1,000-ton-per-day, regional landfill servicing parts of six counties, switched from a system designed for dump truck drivers to waste-industry specific software. "The first system was bought by upper management who had no idea about computers either," she said. "It worked well for quarries or for long-haul truckers, but we had to do a lot of upgrades to make it work for landfill use. All it did was weigh trucks when they came in and out."

The software wasn't golden for office duties, either. Every day, Valley employees had to input scale information into the office computer, print out a hard copy and send it downtown to an accounting office to be input again into an accounts receivable file.

Additionally, there was no archiving capability with the old accounting system, reported Hunt. "You couldn't have more than one month on at a time," she said. "After a month, you had to delete it and store it on diskette and hard copy. So, if you needed to do any investigating, there wasn't enough space to reload the data." To complicate matters, the system's programmer lived across the country.

Valley worked in this manner for a couple of years, before Hunt called it quits. "We knew we needed an up-grade, but we all dreaded it," she remembered. "I didn't know anything about software - I'd never even been on a computer before we bought our first system in '92 - so I went out and talked to people to get some ideas."

She noticed that a sister company was using a software system provided by Norwesco Computing Inc., Belle-vue, Wash., and said she was "im-pressed with its speed and the way it captured information." Converse to her old system that could only read one of her two scales at a time, this system could capture information from both scales and from the two drivers' stations.

Knowing that the system was capable of billing as well as tracking waste, she requested a demo. After loading in some sample accounts and "playing around with some reports," Hunt decided to take the financial plunge.

Since implementation had to be quick and seamless, training began early at Valley Landfill. Accounting had never been done onsite, so the staff had to learn accounts receivables as well as the new system. "The learning process for accounts was the most difficult part at the time," Hunt said. "We had an accountant from downtown come in and give us a crash course."

Employee software training began at the site in November 1995 to prepare for the April implementation date. Then, in February 1996, the senior cashiers traveled to Bellevue to receive hands-on training.

Valley Landfill had one day to switch from their old system to the new. On the eve of April Fool's, a nervous Hunt stood vigil over the installation. The software provider worked through the night to ensure that the system would be ready to go by 7:30 the next morning. The crew was finished around 3 a.m., and were back on hand for the start of the work day.

"The first couple of days were scary," said Hunt, who expressed relief that the reps were there to walk her staff through the paces until they felt secure enough to solo - which for Valley was the second business day.

Seamless transitions depend on proper training, but staff experience dictates the training need. "It's difficult to change from one system to another," said Mastic, who believes that a gradual training approach is good, but that vendors must be willing to work at their customer's pace. "Even if the new system is 10 times better than the old, they know the old system, even if it works poorly. There's going to be that transitional phase where they have to relearn things that, before, they could do in their sleep."

However, the technologically savvy buyers can afford to be a bit more maverick with their training style. John French, a management analyst for the San Joaquin, Calif., county solid waste division, decided not to pay for training and installation of his new billing and waste management system by Carolina Software, Wil-mington, N.C., because he and his staff of 58 were "familiar with PCs and how to use them for ticketing."

The county, which manages two landfills and a transfer station for an estimated half-million population, bought the scale and billing system in 1994 for $2,400: $1,200 for the home office and $400 for each of the sites (one site has since closed).

French had tried purchasing software once before. "A couple of years ago, we hired a local software developer that wrote for canneries, which use a lot of scales. We requested that they write us a one-of-a-kind program," he said. "As it turned out, they wrote us something that was designed on a mainframe, not a PC, and every time we needed something changed, it had to be done on that mainframe and transported back to the PC."

Training and support after the sale can make the difference between success and failure of these systems. "Support must be on a continual basis, because changes in personnel will require your vendor to assist new people," said Alan Birk of Automation Services Inc., Lexington, Ky.

For most buyers, like Hunt, this means "24-7" (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) support that will circumvent business interruption. At Mobile Computing Corp., Toronto, a software or scale customer in North America or Europe can call an 800 number and get a technician to dial into their sites via a modem to troubleshoot problems.

After diagnosing the problem, the representative will send software or upgrades over the phone lines to fix the problem automatically without having anyone fly out to the site, said Mobile's Kim O'Brien.

Interfacing Do you need to purchase new computers or on-board or stationary scales in order to properly interface your current technology with the new software you're buying? Maybe yes. Maybe no.

According to most software and scale vendors, you can mix and match most systems with their software. While this may be the case with some software, you should use caution before paying in full.

"As the whole solid waste industry moves toward charging both commercial and residential accounts on a weight basis, the importance of being able to integrate weighing devices, stationary and on-board, with the management software will be essential for maximum efficiency," reported Wayne Zwolinski of Supersource, Paradise Valley, Ariz.

However, due to consolidation and acquisitions, companies must deal with the various computer systems and scale technology that may exist at new sites - a situation that complicates purchasing a new system that will be compatible at all sites without being a huge financial drain.

"There is an on-going industry trend to consolidate operations," said O'Brien. "Larger operations have many satellite locations spread out, all with the same services. There is a lot of duplication of effort."

Additionally, most other refuse companies are facing problems such as: systems that cannot talk to each other; growing customer demand for information and services; management's desire for more accurate and timely information; and shareholders' requests for efficiency and detailed cost, said Patrick Sweeney of Trans-Comp Systems Inc., Anaheim, Calif., who is in the process of Beta testing a Windows-based system that integrates all functions of the refuse industry from billing and customer service to routing and container tracking.

Salespeople who promise potential buyers the world, and then don't deliver are a sore subject with those who have been burned in the past. A good rule of thumb, said Steve Furber of Specialized Computer Services, Port-land, Ore., is to "be sold by the software, not the salesman. He doesn't have to live with your purchases."

"Robbers is what they are," said Tony Colosimo, president of Artistic Waste Services in Des Moines, Iowa, of the software company that sold him a waste management package a couple of years ago that no one could install.

"I can see now why they wanted me to pay up front before trying to install it because it didn't do what they said it would," he said. "Happily, it turned out fine. I got my money back, but if I had paid them in full and then let them go on, I would have eaten $6,000."

The trouble started when Colosimo, who owns 25 trucks and collects commercial, residential, industrial and recycling for the greater Des Moines area, decided to purchase a program that would streamline the workload for his 45 employees.

For starters, he wanted a system that would keep track of his accounts and would allow him to run historical reports on customers detailing service level, container size and account balance.

Eventually, his plan was to branch out to on-board computers and mapping software that would interface with this office system.

At the time of purchase, Colosimo's staff was working on three unintegrated programs, and all data had to be input three times in order to generate accurate reports.

Colosimo thought he was on his way to a more effective business procedure when he purchased the problem software from a company self-described as "one of the nation's largest, with thousands of satisfied customers."

Before purchase, Colosimo made sure he asked the right questions, but in retrospect, said that the reps "just told me what I wanted to hear."

According to Colosimo, the representatives considered his current system's capacities prior to installation and told him, "you're fine, you'll have no problem."

In truth, Colosimo eventually discovered that he had to shell out "thousands of dollars" to upgrade his system to accept the software. "They should have told me that beforehand," he said. "If these salespeople think their system is so good, they shouldn't have a problem installing it."

So, this second time around, what is Colosimo doing differently? Nothing. He did it right the first time. "I'm a bit more skeptical, but I'm still asking the same questions," he said. "My patience is a lot lower than it used to be."

Partnerships On The Horizon One way to ensure that you will be able to integrate your current hardware or scale systems with new software is to select a vendor whose salespeople will be your customer support after purchase. "If the sales person is the tech person as well, they won't promise you anything they can't deliver," said Mastic.

Another option - if you have the cash flow or financing that allows you to purchase a software and scale system concurrently - is taking advantage of the partnerships that are forming between the software and scale markets. Seamless interfacing between on-board and stationary scales and computer capabilities is one major benefit of buying a complete system that is marketed together by different companies. This complete overhaul will alleviate the headaches that could occur from trying to mix-and-match your current systems with the ever-evolving technology.

At this time, few software and scale companies admit they offer a joint marketing approach, although most report that they intend on selecting a marketing partner "in the near future."

According to Bill Beck at Wray Tech Instruments Inc., Stratford, Conn., which markets software systems with its scales, the advantage of buying one complete software and scale package is that you will receive a cost and customer service benefit. "The customer only has to call an 800 number to get his questions answered," he said.

Mega-alliances such as the one announced in September 1996 by Wray Tech; Soft-Pak, San Diego, Calif.; RouteSmart Technologies, Columbia, Md.; P.C. Scales, Waterloo, Ontario; and Collectech, Calabasas, Calif., could have an effect on how software and scales are marketed.

Buying through a partnership is not a major concern for Pouria Abbassi, a special project manager for the city of Los Angeles' sanitation department. Abbassi and assistant sanitation engineer William Fu are part of a technology team charged with testing software and scale products and then recommending them for use city-wide.

Always on the cutting edge, Los Angeles is looking at reporting software, computerized routing, automatic vehicle locaters, on-board scales and global positioning systems to help the city maximize the efficiency of its residential program which services 720,000 households - about a million-and-a-half people - in refuse and recycling collection. This software must be able to track Los Angeles' two million 60- and 90-gallon containers as well as be user-friendly enough so that the department's 900 employees can learn and understand the new technology.

"The most important thing is the scale itself, because the scales that are most available now are those put on the 6-cubic-yard bins, and that is not what we are looking for," Abbassi said. We want scales that will go on the truck and weigh the truck itself."

Los Angeles, the "largest automated collection program in the world," wants to capture every kind of data available from the trucks via on-board computers, Abbassi said, such as the number of containers picked up and the time spent at the landfills and on the road. The scales must stay accurate despite the constant movement generated by the automated truck.

According to Fu, the city will test three units - two scales on the rear and one on the front - on two pilot trucks. If successful, it will install the scales on five to 10 trucks and eventually will implement the scales on the entire fleet of 800 trucks.

Since the city doesn't charge residents by the container's weight, Abbassi said the most important function of the scales will be to ensure trucks are carrying the legal weight limits. "We have a big problem with police citations," he said.

Legal For Trade While Los Angeles continues testing its scale possibilities, scales that are legal for trade, allowing haulers to charge or rebate customers based on the weight of trash and recyclables collected, continue to develop. The latest in this movement is San Diego, Calif.-based Hardy Instruments' new product, which received National Type Eval-uation Program (NTEP) approval for an in-motion front end loader bin scale late in 1996.

Coupled with the company's STRATEGY collection system which provides driver display panels, radio frequency identification (RFID) and Windows 95-based management and reporting software, the scales do not require slowing or stopping during collection, reported Hardy's Carol Williams.

Cardinal Scale Manufacturing Co., Webb City, Mo., also has received NTEP certification for its truck-mounted scales that can be used to weigh cans. Other scale manufacturers report they should have NTEP-certified scales on the market this year. While many vendors say that they frequently receive calls about scales that can bill by weight or scales that can monitor accounts, few customers are actually putting money down.

"The heavy demand for on-board scales will come when they start making laws," predicted Mastic.

"Scales are nice, because they will help with profitability," he continued. "We can sit here and tell haulers until we're blue in the face that [scales] can help them get rid of unprofitable customers, but they consider software and scales - anything that's not a truck - an expense."

Derrick Mashaney of Fairbanks Scales, Kansas City, Mo., agrees that laws might jumpstart the scale market. "For example, Oklahoma's 1995 law mandating that all operating landfills over a certain capacity have a certified truck scale on the premises to log waste by the ton, rather than by the cubic yard, forced the state to go on a spending spree," he said. "The waste industry is heavily regulated, but scales will be a big expense. The industry also has a low profit margin, so it has to spend wisely."

However, not all believe that laws will drive the scale market. "Man-dated billing by the pound would be very unpopular with residents who don't want to pay more for a 'fairer' system," said Rick Talbot of Vulcan On-Board Scales, Kent, Wash., who notes that economic feasibility will play a large role in scale purchases. "Somebody will have to pay for the implementation of all this technology."

Once certified scales are fully in the market, Beck predicts a change of attitude toward scales. Still, he said, necessity will play a big role in purchases.

Scale Pilot In Rochester The city of Rochester, N.Y., is six months into its on-board scale pilot program and already knows the game plan for the next six months. Funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the pilot was designed to determine whether weight-based billing of commercial accounts would have an impact on waste reduction.

Rochester's solid waste management division - which services 67,000 one-, two- and three-family homes and more than 3,000 commercial and industrial accounts, collecting 125,000 tons of waste yearly - equipped a rear loader with a scale from Precision Loads On-Board Scales, Seattle, Wash., employing six load cells installed between the body and the chassis. The scale weighs the entire body and its contents. The weight of a single pickup is determined by weighing the body before and after pickup then subtracting the difference. All calculations are performed by the scale computer, which has a capacity of 40,000 to 50,000 pounds.

The city collection division used the scale truck to select 92 accounts that had the greatest weight. This selection of customers varied in frequency (every other week to five times a week) and containers (from 6-yard dumpsters to 95-gallon carts).

The data gathered on these customers over the past six months has been an eye-opener: The city has been underbilling about half of these 92 test commercial accounts - 12 of which were not even paying enough through their per yard charge to cover the $56 per ton tipping fee.

Upon further investigation, division manager Lou Guilmette discovered that some of these commercial accounts were not taking advantage of the city's recycling service. "This gave us the opportunity for Glenn King, our recycling coordinator, and Liz Boddie, our commercial accounts representative to help them maximize their recycling effort," he said. "Since we're a municipality, we have to take every step to educate customers. So, once we work out a recycling program and implement it, then we can reevaluate the billing and raise prices."

Education has already begun. With the help of King; Boddie; superintendent, Karon Simoni; customer accounts rep, Barbara Dickinson and billing supervisor, Mary Torres, Guilmette is ready to use what he knows to increase Rochester's profitability. "We will give these troublesome accounts six months to reduce their tonnage," he said.

"With the help of the scales, we can show them the actual reduction and what their average weight will mean in dollars," he continued. "You can bank on it that in week 53 of this program, we're going to be in there, trying to get our revenues up. If these customers still can't keep their weight down at this point, we cannot afford to keep them."

Rochester will use the scale data by converting it to an average weight by collection, which is divided by the volume of the collection containers to give it density in pounds per cubic yard. This density is a convenient method of characterizing waste, Tom Higgins, a solid waste consultant working with Rochester said, noting that "over periods of months or quarters, missed pickups would have little impact."

Rochester's billing system incorporates a fixed charge per trip which covers the service cost plus an additional charge increasing with the container size. Implicit in this volume charge is an assumed density and a tipping fee: For Rochester, the charge per yard is $4.15 with a built-in density of 150 pounds per yard. "Chang-ing the standard density to a customer's actual density will allow adjustment of volume-based billing to cover the costs to heavy-weight customers with densities over the 150 pounds per yard," Higgins explained.

After December, Rochester will equip one of its dozen 25-yard rear loaders with a scale to float through the commercial system, auditing weights. "Every three months, we will get at least two weights from every account to justify the customer's billing category," Guilmette said.

Getting Audited Commercial audits are the hot topic among scale and software buyers. Underbilling is a costly business practice, and although the targets are mainly commercial accounts, haulers also are considering residential audits in the future.

For the past year, Bennie Anselmo, vice president of equipment procurement and maintenance at Norcal Waste Systems Inc., San Francisco, has been using an on-board scale from Cardinal Scale Manufactur-ing Company in a pilot program to monitor his commercial accounts and plans on implementing a residential auditing program soon.

Norcal, which operates a fleet of 800 Volvo GM trucks with rear-, front- and side-load bodies and operates 28 landfills and six transfer stations, provides everything from waste collection and recycling to medical waste removal and waste transfer for commercial, industrial and residential customers in approximately 50 Cali-fornia communities.

Using software and hardware marketed by Savcor Ltd., Atlanta, Anselmo can interface with the scales to record data such as bin and landfill dump weight. Current-ly, RFID tags are speeding the process even more.

Anselmo will use the software and scale paper printout report as proof that a customer has exceeded the standard weight category.

"Eventually, we'd like to expand scale use to the residential operations, but we're using them strictly on commercial routes right now," he said.

He said he also plans on using the scales in a recycling program. "We would like to capture a weight from each customer to record the amount and weight of commodities such as glass, cans, newspapers and cardboard," he said. "As we expand the system, we will be able to do this better."

Talbot believes that while individual residential pick-up weight is a big municipal issue, using scales to audit taxpayer waste can be tricky. "There's the potential for complaints that one neighbor puts his heavy garbage into another's so he won't be charged for the weight. Also, buying scales are not cheap."

Savcor's Chris Ronnblad notes that most customers who are interested in his software's scale interface are "mainly private haulers working commercial routes," but added that "municipalities have been showing interest in automated identification systems like RFID for residential routes, even though they don't have much interest in scales yet for this purpose."

In Des Moines, Colosimo is holding back on using scales for residential waste diversion. "Even if you knew per account what these people are throwing away, what would that information show, unless you have an established volume-based system?" he said. "Eventually, that should change, though. People who recycle should not be charged the same amount as those who throw everything away. Right now, the system is not equitable." Until that time, Artistic will continue to charge a flat fee for residents.

Will My Systems Fall Apart? No company wants to invest money in a product that will disintegrate or self-destruct.

Even the best software and scale companies might market a product that, for your particular, unique uses might go sour. For scales, this means purchasing a unit not designed to handle your weather conditions and waste load, and for software, it means getting bitten by the "millennium bug."

Precision Load's Tom Kendall recommended that haulers look for manufacturers that have a strong track record in places like upstate New York, Pennsylvania and New England. "Moisture and corrosion will eat through cables and seals, so you need to buy plated load cells and make sure your warranty covers environmental reliability."

Jim Doerksen of Adrian J. Paul Company, Duncan, Okla., suggested extending the life of load cells by "exposing them to the load only when the truck is in the stationary weighing mode, but not to the damaging shock loads when the truck is in motion."

Ronnblad warns that a load cell can "go bad gradually without anybody knowing it" - a situation that can make collected data worthless.

Speaking of worthless data, you may find your accounting program is billing customers for 100 years' of service if your hardware or software was not written to differentiate the year 2000 from the year 1900.

This accounting scare, which has businesses such as banks and large retailers spending millions of dollars on upgrades to circumvent this costly mistake is called the "Millennium Bug" or "Y2K" - the year 2000.

In data processing's infancy, programmers conserved memory and storage space by using our current standards for dates: MM/DD/YY (two-digit numbers representing the month, day and year).

Take a look at your computer screen and see if it reports 1997 or just "97." You may be in trouble if you see just two digits, because these computers think that when "00" is input, the typist must mean "1900" because the year 2000 does not exist in these computers' programs.

Whatever your financial situation, this problem demands immediate attention. While the cost for switching over depends on company size and account base, software industry experts warn that for complicated systems, it could take up to three years to overhaul accounts.

Money, Money, Money The bottom line in buying new technology is the bottom line. A quick return on investment, financing options and warranties are all important considerations especially if your cash flow is founded on taxpayer or stockholder support.

"Many companies are not buying the technology due to comfort levels with their current financial return," said Benjamin Butchko of Eaton Corporation, Clemmons, N.C. "It is easier not to invest the time and capital for a capability that is intriguing, but offers no immediate and tangible windfalls."

Purchasing software maintenance packages for six months or a year can be less costly than buying the constant upgrades. For example, San Joaquin's French said he has the option of paying $25 a quarter per license for upgrades. This deal will ensure that you will receive all upgrades for the package's term, and most end users recommend the expense.

According to most software and scale customers, the cost doesn't end with the system's purchase. There will always be upgrades. However, according to French, you can be smart about your purchases. "Get the cost and delivery dates in writing with legally-binding terms" before putting any money down, he said.

"Anything is possible for a price," said French who believes that "if you have all the time and money in the world, you can get that perfect system."

But with your business facing increasing costs and competitors breathing down your back, is now the time to invest? Or maybe the better question might be, how long can you afford to wait?

Before laying out cold cash for a system, you should know your needs, understand computer sales tactics and be able to translate the salesman's jargon.

Even if the salesperson is not a true "computer person," he has been close enough to computer programmers to learn buzz words that will impress or confuse you. If you know the language, you're one step closer to getting exactly the functions you need.

Following are some words that you will come across in your quest for the perfect program.

Let's start with "GUI": Graphic-al User Interface. This is how the Windows, OS/2 and Macintosh's master programs (operating systems) work. Simply put, the operating system puts pictures, boxes, arrows and icons on your computer screen, then lets you use a mouse to select the program.

When your computer is in GUI mode, icons - small pictures designed by the software company - are the key to starting a program. These pictures symbolize specific computer functions, making them easy to identify with one quick glance. Another way to start a program is by using a menu.

You probably will hear "file server" and "distributed network" when investigating software. Said simply, the file server is a central place where you will store most of your data, primarily customer information, so that everyone in the office instantly can use and update it.

A distributed network is a set of computers linked together, sharing each other's peripheral devices like printers, modems and disk drives. It is common for both file server and distributed networks to co-exist.

Consider how you want your staff to access and modify the databases (information stored on the computer). "Open systems" and "proprietary database" technology are methods by which a database can be accessed and updated. For example, you would want routing and billing system (RBS) information to be private and word processing and spreadsheet operations to be accessible.

You can attach a route optimization system that interfaces (talks) directly with the RBS to help your route manager get the most out of his crew.

You may want to link the RBS up with an on-board computer system, but be sure it demands little of the route driver's time. This will mean RFIDing (radio frequency identification) your service units. Be sure that your RBS can export revenue and receipt numbers from the RBS to spreadsheets like EXCEL or LOTUS. You want to keep your bean counters happy with lots of numbers to massage.

Purchase programs that will allow your general manager to analyze the customer and route databases. The ad-hoc program built into your RBS, plus a third-party report writer like FoxPro, IQ or MS Access will do the trick.

Finish your selections off with a word processor, contact management software, a task scheduler ... and some games. Yes, games. If your staff is not computer literate, games can provide an easy way for them to overcome computer phobias and thus facilitate their computer education.

The philosophy is simple: Each of your groups will be more productive with the proper software. Just as the task requirement for each group is different, the state-of-the-art which best suits the groups will differ.

When looking for a scale system, you should consider several points: * Type of scale and truck configurations. Scales can be used on a variety of collection trucks - front, side and rear loaders; recycling trucks; and roll-offs. Both container (bin or can) scales or body scales are available. Body scales measure truck body weight before, during and after route pickups. Dynamic, in-motion and static front end loader fork scales weigh each container. Semi-automatic tipper scales are available which collect weight data for roll-out carts. Discuss your current and future needs with scale manufacturers, some of whom are devoting significant resources to truck scale products for multiple truck configurations.

* In-motion verses static weighing. A practical difference between a static scale and one that weighs in motion is the amount of time needed to weigh the load. A static scale must stop at each pick up, adding an average of 20 seconds per stop. In-motion scales do not require this additional time.

* Ownership cost and maintenance ease. When comparing prices, look at ownership cost as well as list price. Consider the scale price, maintenance cost, calibration fee and manufacturer service contract charge. Do you need to purchase a maintenance contract? Some scale designs may require you to hire a dedicated technician for maintenance. If you choose the billing-by-weight option, additional costs are associated with National Type Evaluation Pro-gram (NTEP)-approved scale installation and maintenance. (NTEP-approved scales are "legal for trade," allowing you to charge or rebate customers based on the weight of trash or recyclables collected.)

* Modular scale systems. Consider a manufacturer who offers additional components to customize a scale system. For example, are you interested in on-board truck computers, automatic identification of containers and route management or reporting software? Choosing a modular system allows you to expand as your business grows and your needs change.

* Compatibility. Scale systems are a significant investment and should integrate easily with existing hardware and software. The scale will gather data that will be of little value unless it is tied in with a good truck computer. Scale systems also should be compatible with automatic container identification systems, routing packages and billing software, so that you won't have to purchase additional hardware or software.

* Reporting software. A scale will help collect weight data. When integrated with a truck computer, this as well as other route data, such as pick-up location and time, will help you fine tune and improve operations and customer service. Consider a scale system that provides reports or will be compatible with major route reporting software applications on the market.

* Scale weighing capacity. You must know the maximum weight that the scale can measure. If you choose to bill by weight, NTEP scales can be certified to 10 or 20 pound divisions for scale capacities of 5,000 or 10,000 pounds, respectively. This means, for example, that a 5,000 pound capacity NTEP-certified bin scale would show accuracy of 10 pounds per lift.

* Accuracy of each collected container or truck load. To ensure highly accurate container data, place a sample of a known weight in a container and test the scale's measured results. If you want to measure the weight collected for each customer, select a manufacturer that will focus on container weight, not landfill or tip weight accuracy. However, when choosing a body scale, the weight of the truck can be compared to the total truck weight at the landfill to measure its accuracy.

1. What you bill is less than the direct costs of providing the service in about 30 percent of accounts.

2. New accounts can be competitively quoted based on the rolling average weights collected over time.

3. Key accounts can be retained under competitive situations.

4. Billing can be based on weight collected, which requires accurate weights and measures certified scales.

5. Rebates or refunds (recyclables) can be determined based on the weight collected.

6. Disposal costs and/or taxes can be fairly apportioned to each waste generator.

7. Vehicle overweight conditions and fines can be avoided.

Do you view your computer as a tool to build profit or an expensive paperweight? If you don't use the system and its information to help control costs and maximize the efficiency of your collection operation, it's possible that you haven't been properly trained.

Maximizing paybacks from computerized information systems requires commitment to business improvement and personnel training, especially management. However, many managers may be flooded with cumbersome electronic or paper reports that become a business detractor rather than a benefactor.

Identifying unprofitable customers is a primary system benefit. By collecting and analyzing historic customer service costs with revenue history, an accurate picture of cost versus revenue can be determined for groups or single accounts. This highlights unprofitable accounts and identifies the extremely profitable accounts that are most susceptible to competitive takeover.

Acting on this information will directly affect the company bottom line. At the same time, it may point out poor decisions which were caused by a lack of adequate information or incorrect assumptions. A management team that understands these issues can more effectively deal with their business and provide guidance to the sales and operations force.

Using the data gathering and reporting capabilities allows customer service and operations personnel to address service exceptions when they occur. They can either remedy the problem before the customer knows it exists, or call them to resolve the problem before a complaint is received.

System use eliminates the need for manual route audits since they are performed daily. Audit information is transferred electronically to internal systems which reduces the need for manual data entry. The system can pinpoint areas of inefficient routing and quantify the impact of poor weather, breakdowns or consistent congestion at specific disposal facilities.

Training drivers, dispatchers, customer service representatives and the sales force is relatively easy and involves learning how to operate and control the system's features. Management training should start even before a purchase decision is made.

With the introduction of the system, certain processes within the business will become more efficient and some will change. Managing that change, while maintaining operation of the business, takes time, dedication and commitment. The real payback comes when management has been trained and can bridge the gap between system features and business application.

AOL Technologies (WAM). Waste accounting management software for haulers, landfills, transfer stations, MRFs and recycling and composting facilities; on-board scale interfaces. Contact: Robert Braden, 280 California Ave., Reno, Nev. 89509. (800) 282-8229. Fax: (702) 626-4910. E-mail: wam@refuse.com

Autocoach. On-board computers. Contact: Azor Phelps, 1419 Upfield Dr., Carrollton, Texas 75006. (972) 446-2046. Fax: (972) 446-2031.

Cardinal Scale Manufacturing Co. Manufacturer of scales and weighing systems. Contact: Stephen Cole, 203 E. Daugherty, P.O. Box 151, Webb City, Mo. 64870. (800) 441-4237. Fax: (417) 673-5001.

Carolina Software. WasteWORKS software for weigh-in, facility usage, billing, account aging, etc. Contact: Larry Blanton, P.O. Box 3097, 4006 Oleander Dr., Wilmington, N.C. 28406 (910) 799-6767. Fax: (910) 799-1177.

Computer Analysis & Planning Inc. Waste management control systems with scale control/ticketing, accounts receivable, manifesting, state and federal reporting, graphics and related modules. Contact: Michael Tillman, 9424 Newburgh Rd., Livonia, Mich. 48150. (313) 522-0750. Fax: (313) 425-1380.

Creative Information Systems Inc. Scale managment software including recycling, production tracking and complete accounting. Contact: Kevin St. John, 500 Harvey Rd., Manchester, N.H. 03103. (603) 627-4144. Fax: (603) 668-1150. E-Mail: cisi@tiac.net

Eaton Corp. Trucking Information Services Division. Truck logistics and maintenance management system, including on-board computers and ground support systems. Contact: Jeffrey Skorupski, 6209 Ramada Dr., Clemmons, N.C. 27012. (616) 342-3818. Fax: (616) 342-3535. E-mail: Advisor@TCONA.etn.com

Environmental Data Resources. Manufacturers of a computerized information service which tracks more than 6,000 waste disposal and recycling facilities. Contact: Paul Schiffer, 3530 Post Rd., Southport, Conn. 06490. (800) 352-0050. Fax: (800) 231-6802.

Fairbanks Scales. Scale manufacturer. Contact: Kevin Dooley, 821 Locust, Kansas City, Mo. 64106. (816) 471-0231. (816) 471-5951.

Hardy Instruments Inc. Computerized collection systems using RFID, weight management, RF modems and Windows database programming. Contact: Dave Ness, 3860 Calle Fortunada, San Diego, Calif. 92123. (619) 278-2900. Fax: (619) 278-6700.

Information Systmes Inc. Weigh-in and out software for disposal facilities. Contact: James Manley, 803 Gleneagles Ct, Ste. 400, Baltimore, Md. 21286. (410) 769-9800. Fax: (410) 769-8045. E-Mail: igi@igi-infsys.com

LTS Scale Corp. On-board weighing systems. Contact: Ken Filling, 1500 Enterprise Parkway, Twinsburg, Ohio 44087. (216) 425-3092.

Mobile Computing Corp. On-board computers, scale systems and mobile data communications systems. Contact: Kim O'Brien, 54 Lesmill Rd., Toronto, Ontario M3B 2T5. (416) 449-5757.

Norwesco Computing Inc. RICS software for haulers, recyclers, landfills, MRFs and transfer stations. Contact: Rick Ericksson, 14400 Bel-Red Rd., Ste. 207, Bellevue Wash. 98005. (206) 747-6355. Fax: (206) 747-7816.

PC Automation Inc. Geoware waste management automated system. Contact: Mark Wills, 925 Erb St. West, Waterloo, Ontario, N2J 3Z4. (519) 888-9304. Fax: (519) 888-9085. E-mail: markw@pcauto.com

Precision Loads Inc. Fork- or body-mounted front loader weighing systems; body-mounted rear loader weighing systems; load pin, RF-based, on-board transfer trailer weighing systems; on-board computers; gross-, axle- and container-weight data collection. Contact: Thomas Kendall, 4775 Ballard Ave., N.W., Seattle, Wash. 98107. (800) 720-1192. Fax: (206) 783-4551.

RouteSmart Technologies. Route optimization and mapping software. Contact: Chris Walz, 8850 Stanford Blvd., Ste. 2600, Columbia, Md. 21045-5804. (800) 977-7284. E-Mail: DISTINCT@RouteSmart .com

So Cal Soft Pak. Waste management software. Contact: Roger Meheer, 3550 Cam-ino Del Rio, North, #208, San Diego, Calif. 91942. (619) 283-2338. E-Mail: www.Soft-Pak.com

Sooner Scale Inc. Trucks scales, on-board systems, software and data management systems. Contact: Chris Bagley, P.O. Box 82386, Oklahoma City, Okla. 73148. (405) 236-3566. Fax: (405) 759-3444.

Structural Instrumentation Inc. On-board weighing and information systems; route management software. Contact: Stan Nelson, 4611 S. 134th Pl., Seattle, Wash. 98168. (800) 255-8274. Fax: (206) 246-7195.

Supersource Inc. Integrated software system for all solid waste management operations. Contact: Wayne Zwolinski, 4125 N. 42nd Place, Phoenix, Ariz. 85018. (602) 955-6450. Fax: (602) 955-4077.

Target Market Systems. Refuse management systems. Contact: Joseph Bshan, 1577 Ridge Rd., West, Ste. 117, Rochester, N.Y. 14615. (716) 621-5825. E-Mail: tmssol@ frontiernet.net

Thurman Scale Co. Floor scales, electronic and mechanical truck scales; indicators; printers and data weight management system. Contact: Tracie Walker, 255 E. Livingston Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43215. (614) 221-9077. Fax: (614) 221-8879.

Transcomp Systems Inc. Business software for solid waste managment. Contact: Patrick Sweeny, 2951 East La Palma Ave., Anaheim, Calif. 92806. (714) 238-9293. Fax: (714) 630-5843. E-Mail: pais@transcomp.com

Vulcan On-Board Scales. On-board truck scales; on-board full load scales; on-board computers. Contact: Fred Houghton, 5920 S. 194th St., Kent, Wash. 98032. (800) 237-0022. Fax: (206) 872-9626.

Weigh-Right Inc. On-board truck scales; on-board full load scales; on-board computers. Contact: Lori Dohrmann, 11 N. Valley Pride, South Hutchinson, Kan. 67505. (316) 665-1123.

Wray Tech Instruments Inc. On-board computing and scales and Window-based report generating. Contact: David Wray, 555 Lordship Blvd., Stratford, Ct. 06497. (203) 386-1365.

recycling: Houston Expects A Lift From Automating Yard Collection

High yard waste volumes are driving the city of Houston to improve its collection efficiency and, according to a recent pilot program, automated carts could be the answer.

Houston, located in a sub-tropical climate with an extended growing season, discovered that the weight of yard trimmings constitutes as much as 32 percent of its residential waste stream (see chart). In response, the city's solid waste management department began a separate yard trimmings collection program in 1993 and, currently, collects this material once a week from 85,000 homes. By fall 1997, the department anticipates this number to rise to more than 160,000 homes.

In September 1996, the city began a pilot program to test the effectiveness of collecting yard trimmings in automated containers. Due to their established civic associations, subdivisions were expected to have high participation levels, and thus were selected to be evaluated on set-out rates and volume. A study, completed in October 1995, showed that the average weekly set-out rate was 11.6 percent, with each home averaging 2.6 bags of yard trimmings.

Of those evaluated, six subdivisions were selected to create four routes with an average of 1,500 homes per route. The routes were created without any change in the residents ex-isting service. As a bonus, the 90- and 65-gallon green carts used in the program were manufactured from 50 percent re-cycled plastic - the highest percentage of plastic used in the United States.

The first step in establishing the pilot was to educate the civic associations and appropriate city council members. Following an introductory letter, meetings were scheduled with the individual organizations. After assuring association cooperation, an informational letter with a postage-paid response card was mailed to every address in the chosen subdivisions.

Containers and a detailed brochure were distributed to a list of citizens responding prior to September 3, 1996. Following the first collection day, an additional 274 carts and informational brochures were delivered to citizens who did not respond to the initial inquiry but still put out their yard trimmings in bags.

Additional educational efforts to increase participation levels and decrease contamination included a press release to area media. Also, citizens received information from their subdivision newsletters, individual letters or brochures.

Leaf drop and spring cleaning seasons posed a special problem with the amount of material to be recycled because automated carts would not hold all of the materials generated. As a result, an additional pickup was scheduled to collect excess materials. This service also is provided to customers who regularly compost their green waste.

The city's manual collection program diverts approximately 1,300 tons of yard trimmings per month, saving taxpayers more than $260,000 per year in landfill costs. This program, coupled with the pilot, also reduced the amount of material disposed in area landfills by 15,600 tons per year. By eliminating manual loading, the automated program can improve efficiencies with lower staf-fing levels, increased productivity and reduced job-related injuries.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Mike Frisch-korn recently announced his resignation as president and CEO of the Environmental Industries Association (EIA), Washington, D.C. Bruce J. Parker, deputy CEO and general counsel, will be acting in his stead until a replacement is found.

Frischkorn cited differences with the EIA Board of Trustees over the association's growth strategy - the board wants EIA to focus on core waste industry needs - as his reason for departing.

Frischkorn joined EIA in April 1994, a few months after it was created in a restructuring of the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA). The restructuring subdivided NSWMA into its three major industry segments: solid and medical waste services, equipment manufacturing and distribution and hazardous waste services.

Staying Afloat In A Sea Of Uncertainty: The Evolving Recycling Coordinator

During the last twenty years, two environmental "crises" have galvanized the nation to de-mand local level comprehensive program development. The first was the energy crisis in the late '70s and early '80s which jolted Americans into the realization that their seemingly endless supply of natural resources actually were limited.

Spurred by national mandates to address this issue, local jurisdictions created the "energy coordinator" to design, develop and implement energy conservation management and awareness programs. Today, with energy conservation ingrained in our environmental consciousness, most energy coordinators have disappeared and their responsibilities absorbed by plant and facility managers.

The second environmental crisis was spurred by the public's image of garbage-laden barges. While federal legislators debated waste management issues, the Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., built political support for recycling and waste diversion programs. State legislatures began competing for the highest landfill diversion rates, and local governments, facing another state-mandated, locally-implemented program, created a new municipal position: recycling coordinator.

"We had a major piece of legislation in Flor-ida to look at solid waste management," said Jackie Eldridge, recycling coordinator for Jacksonville. "In our area, it came from the legislative side. Coordinators popped up all over to administer the different programs."

However, considering the number of curbside recycling programs, the emphasis now is shifting from "design, development and implementation" to "monitor and adjust." Similar to the energy management programs of the early '80s which resulted in computerized lighting control and fuel efficient automobiles, government and industry has made a considerable investment in recycling and waste diversion.

So, as recycling becomes part of everyday life, recycling coordinator positions will either evolve or, similar to energy coordinators, disappear.

The New Breed What will happen to those dedicated individuals who have built careers as recycling coordinators? Are they destined to find themselves jobless as municipalities seek to downsize and streamline their workforce?

Today's recycling coordinators could have been the energy coordinators of the past, honing their abilities to develop entire programs in a vacuum. Like entrepreneurs, they took calculated risks lacking hard evidence or research. They also learned to think on their feet and envision complete systems, while battling skeptical and even hostile adversaries.

As a result of the maturing recycling industry, these individuals may be poised to apply their experiences in the next environmental challenge: synthesizing all environmental programs into a single approach. Re-cycling coordinators who have en-joyed both success and support are moving into "broader areas of environmental protection and sustainability," according to Gary Liss, executive director of the California Resource Recovery Association, Loomis, Calif.

"We see programs experimenting with different ways of connecting hazardous waste, solid waste, recycling, energy conservation and water conservation issues," he said. "There have been a lot of experiments, and we'll probably see more, particularly by major cities and some of the county governments." For example, although the city of San Jose, Calif., has never had a recycling coordinator, it has pursued an integrated environmental management approach to aggressively meet the current waste diversion mandates, while preparing for the future environmental issues. San Jose's program began in the 1980s, with its Office of Environmen-tal Management. Other operations that dealt with environmental issues were scattered throughout various city departments.

"In the early 1980s we were establishing long-range solid waste policies," said Ellen Ryan, San Jose's integrated waste management program manager. "San Jose always has had a privatized garbage and recycling system. Our services have been provided through contract which were part of this office."

Soon, however, the city recognized the need to consolidate those environmental functions into a central operation. By 1991, the Office of Environ-mental Management had grown to 65 employees from the original 10 to 15. "We were planning a major shift in how we handled our solid waste and developed a program that would take us to 50 percent diversion," said Ryan.

"On a parallel course, the city also was going through a lot of changes, particularly in environmental quality issues, which involved a variety of departments and the Office of En-vironmental Management."

Eventually, the Environmental Services department was formed in July 1993, which today employs 450 people in three major operations, including the Solid Waste Program, a wastewater treatment plant and a small water company.

The department's responsibilities also include environmental enforcement, policy and planning, community relations and other support services.

As a result, an entire employment classification system has evolved, stressing environmental issues.

"It has opened up enormous opportunities," observed Ryan. "In the past, the classification was limited. Now we're seeing the classification used throughout the entire department.

"For instance," she continued, "one of my staff came from the wastewater treatment plant where she had been a senior plant operator. Through her experience, she was able to compete and become an environmental specialist and move into a new discipline. The positions allow flexibility and mobility."

Recognizing that governmental regulations are not going away, cities are bringing their environmental disciplines together in a cohesive ap-proach. Future environmental issues, tied directly to natural resource management, ultimately will reach a critical mass and demand a policy re-sponse. If some necessary resource is in short supply, a coordinated local level response will be required.

For example, in Florida, high quality water may be an emerging critical environmental issue. "We just got a $100,000 grant from the State Department of Environmental Protec-tion for our pollution recovery trust fund to do major cleanups of debris in St. John's river," noted Eldridge. "In south Florida, where the river starts in the center part of the state, they're getting salt intrusion. It's tied in, but it's a different part of the environment, and it seems we go in cycles."

While the primary issues of developing and implementing recycling programs have been resolved, future issues on materials' use, markets and closing the loop seem to hold the most promise.

Therefore, it will be important for the future-minded recycling coordinator to understand how individual environmental activities fit together, as well as how they fit within the connecting disciplines of social, political and economic development.

Both energy and recycling are aspects of a broader discipline that is beginning to blossom. "The whole concept of sustainability is the next wave linking a number of environmental programs," remarked Liss. "We have the President's Council on Sustainable Development that just came out with its strategy nationally. It has helped formulate some new directions and paradigms of working together in public and private partnerships.

"We're now seeing that there isn't a landfill crisis, but rather a resource management crisis," he continued. "That's why looking at how we manage our resources is really the unifying theme that makes sense. We need land use policies that minimize the resources used in development, and water conservation and energy conservation programs linked together to create more cost effective, efficient uses of the land and revitalizing our urban areas."

According to Liss, deciding how to fund these new activities and channel the investments feasibly will be a challenge. "In the next ten years, we will be coming up with new tax policies and incentives that will move us towards more sustainable resources and sustainable society in general," he predicted.

What Can You Do? Being prepared for these opportunities may mean rethinking your current experience and knowledge levels and identifying ways to grow. "A background in environmental studies or a degree in public administration is a first step," suggested Ryan, who noted that she is educating her staff on the budget process. "[Finances are] a big part of our business," she explained.

She suggested that the recycling staff understand environmental issue planning, both strategically and from a traditional government perspective.

While the evolution of the recycling coordinator is sure to continue, it's smart to position yourself to assume a larger role within both the environmental field and in your organization.

Solid waste and recycling still will be important components of the field. Those who can fit these pieces together with the other environmental challenges facing today's cities will find their careers prospering well into the 21st century.

Controlling Leachate When Your Juice Gets Loose

Political, regulatory and demographic limitations have posed significant demands on landfill managers' abilities to cope with lea-chate treatment and disposal. Al-though Subtitle D regulations dictate various landfill design, operational and monitoring standards, the actual leachate generation and management is only as good as the operation.

No matter how high-tech or efficiently designed a landfill is, experienced and novice landfill managers all share the common challenges of managing leachate. How you manage it can make or break your landfill's environmental integrity and economic viability.

Can Politics And Leachate Mix? On the eastern shores of North Carolina, officials with the Coastal Regional Solid Waste Management Authority (CRSWMA), New Bern, N.C., never dreamed they'd have such stigmas and political problems associated with the disposal of their not-yet-operational landfill's leachate.

Once an "emergency-only" home was found for the liquid, the landfill's leachate generation rates grew out of control, posing economic and operational hazards to the infant agency.

Created in the early 1990s to manage the solid waste needs of a three-county region, CRSWMA's toughest challenge was not getting a landfill permit from the North Carolina Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources, but finding a place for its landfill's leachate.

The pristine Carolina coast draws many tourists, but, overall, the region is rural and sparsely populated. Major fish kills four years ago on the Neuse River led to heightened environmental sensitivity among local community leaders and focused the public eye on CRSWMA's landfill and two transfer stations.

"Many of the publicly-owned treatment works (POTW) were afraid of the leachate or had political considerations prohibiting it from their systems," said CRSWMA chief engineer Lori Dietz. "In this area, accepting our leachate was a politically touchy subject, and it was difficult to overcome the perception that leachate is some kind of awful stuff."

With few alternatives, state regulators grudgingly allowed CRSWMA to recirculate leachate, provided it had access to a wastewater treatment facility for emergency situations. With permit in hand, CRSWMA's staff began landfill operations only to fall victim to inexperience and cruel blows from mother nature.

"Up until a month before we opened the landfill, we only had five employees, and they all worked in administration," Dietz recalled. "We opened the landfill and the transfer stations on the same day, and it was a huge learning curve."

After a year of pumping leachate into the new cell, Dietz said the system failed. "We had major problems controlling stormwater, and we had no good way of dividing the cell," she said. "With such a new landfill, we also didn't have enough garbage going into it to absorb the recirculated leachate. In essence, we overloaded the system."

The political climate became in-creasingly volatile when the wastewater treatment plant, owned by a neighboring U.S. Marine Corp base, was forced to accept some 40,000 gallons of leachate daily.

The Solution Following political negotiations to find a permanent home for its leachate and weathering two hurricanes and a tropical storm, CRSWMA finally has its leachate management under control. "One of the local cities wanted relief on its construction and demolition (C&D) disposal costs," Dietz said. "It was a trade off: They take our leachate, and we give them a yearly credit on C&D waste."

Operationally, CRSWMA has incorporated temporary synthetic liners as intermediate cover on unoccupied cells, reducing the facility's leachate generation rates to 5,000 gallons daily. When hurricanes Fran and Bertha hit the coast last year, followed by tropical storm Josephine, the wrath of 18 inches of rain dumped on the site didn't phase the landfill's leachate generation rates, proving CRSWMA's success may have been hard earned, but fruitful.

"We didn't get smart until we moved into the [cell's] final area," Dietz admitted. "We've had a huge learning curve, and we're still climbing."

Wet Versus Dry Landfills According to Rick Watson, chief engineer for the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA), Dover, who oversees three active landfills and a closed facility, leachate management can incorporate many evolving philosophies.

"The current regulations want you to operate as a dry landfill, whereby you take the moisture out of the facility as quickly as you can, using the landfill's liner and leachate collection system," he said.

Another philosophy, of which N.C. Vasuki, the DSWA's executive director is a chief proponent, is to take a portion of the leachate and return it to the landfill, making it wetter and, "theoretically, helping what's in the landfill biodegrade quicker," Watson said. Deciding on which philosophy works best, however, is a matter of site specifics.

At the DSWA's closed Pigeon Point Landfill, where the facility was capped prior to Subtitle D regulations, access to a wastewater treatment plant is convenient and has minimal impact to the POTW operated by the city of Wilmington.

"A couple hundred thousand gallons per day has minimal impact on the [POTW's] total daily flow capacity of 40 million gallons," Watson said. "The landfill was capped with soil that didn't have a lot of clay, and we still have a substantial quantity of lea-chate."

The DSWA had to decide on how much to spend to reduce the leachate quantity. Incurring a yearly sewer charge of $150,000, DSWA officials didn't think it made economic sense to fund the construction of a geomembrane cap and abandon its POTW options.

However, the cost of operating dry landfills at DWSA's Central and Southern landfills was substantial because both facilities are located remotely and aren't accessed by nearby sewer systems.

"A wet landfill appeared to be a more attractive option, so we began recirculating leachate at the Central Landfill in 1982," Watson explained. "The thought was, we would generate enough leachate for the landfill to take it all back."

DSWA officials pursued a series of recirculation efforts, including perforated concrete wells, ponds on top of the landfill and a traveling spray irrigation system.

"It had its problems," Wat-son recalled. "In the winter, [leachate] would freeze, and in the summer, when it was windy, it would travel to the working face and smell like hell."

In the mid-to-late 1980s, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C., began considering Subtitle D regulations, Vasuki petitioned agency officials and asked them to reconsider the dry landfill option.

"They allowed us to conduct a one-year test, filling two one-acre cells," Watson said. "One cell was operated as a dry landfill, the other as a wet."

Today, partially funded by the EPA, the DSWA is conducting a study of the cells. Both cells are being excavated, and during the next several months, a waste characterization analysis will provide the DSWA with telling results of both operations.

Green Leachate Or Green Budgets? Aside from the political and regulatory issues concerning leachate, management treatment and disposal costs are dictated by operational practices. Rob Burnette, vice president of engineering for Santek En-vironmental Inc., Cleveland, Tenn., heads the engineering efforts at the company's five publicly-owned landfills.

How green are you? "From an environmental standpoint, you don't want to negligently produce more leachate than you have to, but, sometimes, the cost to prevent leachate generation can be many times more the cost of disposing of it," Burnette said.

And, while Subtitle D regulations govern current landfill practices, economics probably will dictate future trends.

"Leachate management is more of a best-management practice," Burnette said. "The regulations don't specifically address the generation rate of leachate.

"Under the Subtitle D theory, leachate isn't going to be leaking into the groundwater so it really doesn't matter how much leachate you're generating from a purely regulatory perspective."

And, for current practices and trends to change, Watson believes it will be regulatory-driven, pushing disposal costs higher or making alternative options more competitive.

"Pretreatment is coming, basically because of the nature of regulations," he said. "As the clean water regulations become more stringent on rivers and streams, there's bound to be a domino effect on the wastewater treatment standards which will eventually hit landfills."

Regardless of future technologies and regulations, Dietz said economics is the fundamental challenge associated with leachate disposal.

"It would have to take absolutely no available [leachate disposal] facility, or a drastic raise in disposal rates for another alternative to be more attractive than using our local POTW," Dietz said. "For my authority, it's definitely a dollar issue."

Leachate Controls, Part II will feature examples of the latest advancements in collecting and treating leachate.

* Aeromix Systems Inc. Surface aspirating aerators. Contact: Linda MacFarlane, 2611 N. Second St., Minneapolis, Minn. 55411. (612) 521-8519. Fax: (612) 521-1455.

* Agru America Inc. Thermoplastic HDPE and LLDPE geomembranes and drainage geomembranes. Contact: Robert John-son, 300 West Davis, Ste. 520, Conroe, Texas 77305. (800) 373-2478. (409) 539-6162.

* Blackhawk Environmental Co. Leachate and methane gas pumps and flare ignition systems. Contact: Dennis Thorton, Z1W159 Hill Ave., Glen Ellyn, Ill. 60137. (630) 469-4916. Fax: (630) 469-4896.

* Central Plastics Company. Complete line of polyethylene fittings and connecting equipment for joining leachate piping systems; electrofusion fittings, equipment and accessories. Contact: Tammy Jones, 1901 W. Independence St., Shawnee, Okla. 74801. (800) 654-3872. Fax: (405) 273-5993.

* EPG Companies Inc. Leachate pumps and controls. Contact: Duncan Bosley, P.O. Box 410, Rogers, Minn. 55374. (800) 443-7426. Fax: (612) 493-4812.

* John Zink Company. Enclosed and open flare systems, condensate vaporization systems, complete blower/flare skid systems. Contact: Tim Locke, 11920 East Apache, Tulsa, Okla. 74116. (918) 234-2783.

* Landfill Gas & Environmental. Landfill gas and recovery equipment. Contact: Manuel Palma, 9855 Prospect Ave., Santee, Calif. 92071. (888) 533-5343. Fax: (619) 596-9088.

* Osmotek Inc. Leachate treatment technology. Contact: Keith Lampi, P.O. Box 1882, Corvallis, Ore. 97339. (541) 753-0281.

* Plexco. Plyethylene pipe for dual containment systems, leachate recovery and methane recovery systems. Contact: Jim Stilling, 1050 Il Route 83, Bensenville, Ill. 60106. (630) 350-3700. Fax: (630) 350-2704. E-Mail: info@plexco.com

* Protec. Down-well leachate recovery pump.Contact: Mark Patton, 7136 South Yale, Ste. 200, Tulsa, Okla. (918) 493-6101. Fax: (918) 493-2050.

* QED Environmental Systems Inc. LFG condensate and leachate pumps. Contact: QED, P.O. Box 3726, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48106. (800) 624-2026. Fax: (313) 995-1170. E-Mail: info@gedenv.com

*Rochem. Leachate treatment systems. Contact: David LaMonica, 3904 Del Amo Blvd., Ste. 801, Torrance, Calif. 90503. (310) 370-3160. Fax: (310) 370-4988.

Recycling Fly Ash And Sludge For Profit

Finding innovative uses for fly ash is nothing new for Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Electric (WE). Approxi-mately 15 years ago, the company launched an aggressive ash utilization program and since has marketed its ash by-products successfully to the construction industry. A $22 million light-weight aggregate plant, lo-cated in the company's Oak Creek, Wis., power plant, is WE's latest effort to manufacture a product from fly ash.

Now in its third year of operation, the plant is the world's only commercial-scale facility that produces structural-grade lightweight aggregate from coal combustion fly ash and municipal and paper mill wastewater sludges.

Using a unique process developed by WE and its affiliate, Minergy Corp. (both Wisconsin Energy Corp., Milwaukee, subsidiaries), the wastes are converted to an environmentally-benign, structural grade lightweight aggregate for construction use. The stone-like end product, Minergy LWA, is suitable for use in concrete products and in geotechnical, landscaping and asphalt-paving applications, or any application requiring stone, sand or gravel.

Historically, fly ash and sludges have been landfilled at a substantial cost. The Minergy process, however, can convert nearly all of these waste materials to a marketable product and to useful heat energy.

The technology combines fly ash from the Oak Creek power plant with wastewater sludge from the Milwau-kee Metropolitan Sewerage District and paper mill sludge from southern Wisconsin paper mills.

The sludges are proportioned, mixed and then fed to a pelletizer that creates pellets about 11/42-inch in diameter, according to plant manager Dick Dowdell.

"Dried pellets are fed to a rotary kiln for firing at temperatures near 2000Degrees Fahrenheit," he explained. "All the organic and volatile materials in the pellets are burned out, leaving a durable, light weight, ceramic-like aggregate."

Unlike conventional lightweight aggregate manufacturing processes that rely on a large amount of energy to power the process, the ash and sludges serve as fuel for most of the plant energy needs. To boost the process efficiency further, future plans include the installation of a waste-heat recovery boiler with a steam generating capacity of 40,000 pounds per hour, roughly equivalent to four megawatts of electricity.

After the aggregate product meets quality assurance requirements, it is stockpiled before it goes through a crushing and screening process to meet market needs. The product then is sold by WE under the Minergy LWA trademark.

LWA is the only structural grade lightweight aggregate produced in the upper Midwest and has been used in projects in five states and Canada. "We're seeing success in a number of construction projects, including an award-winning bridge in Sheboygan and numerous multi-story structures such as hospitals, libraries and office buildings," said Kevin Cavanaugh, LWA regional sales manager.

In addition, LWA is more environmentally benign than the two feedstocks. "All organic compounds in the fly ash and sludge are destroyed in the combustion process," said Dowdell. "Analysis of the heat-hardened aggregate shows that the leachate meets federal U.S. Environ-mental Protection Agency drinking water standards."

The Oak Creek processing facility is on schedule to achieve its design capacity to process 60,000 tons of sludge and 85,000 tons of fly ash into about 90,000 tons of lightweight aggregate per year. "The aggregate facility has advanced our goal of utilizing 100 percent of the coal fly ash from our power plants," said Tom Jansen, manager of LWA sales and marketing. "We currently market about 60 percent of the ash we produce compared to the industry ash utilization rate of 25 percent."

"The Minergy technology can be used wherever there is a potential market for lightweight aggregate and wherever fly ash and sludges can be economically shipped to one site," explained Tim Nechvatal, Minergy Corp.'s vice president.

In an industry that is rapidly moving beyond the traditional business of producing and delivering electricity, WE's LWA plant provides a glimpse of the effect growing competition will have on energy companies as they explore ways to enter new markets and offer new services.

Contracts Rader Resource Recovery Inc., Mem-phis, Tenn., has received a contract from Reciclados Industriales de Mexico (RIMEX) to supply material handling equipment for a new interim bottle facility in Mexico City, N.M.

The Florida Department of Environ-mental Protection has awarded Rust Environment and Infrastructure, Greenville, S.C., a four-year contract, valued at $8 million, for comprehensive environmental services at its statewide hazardous waste site/dry-cleaning solvent cleanup programs.

Distributor Mid-Atlantic Plastic Systems, Inc., Roselle, N.J., has been appointed the U.S. Agent for Julien Environmental Technology, Belgium., a manufacture of recycled plastic lumber molding machines and recycled plastic pallet molding machines.

Funding The Bedford Capital Co., New York, offers the Bedford Recycling Fund which focuses on firms engaged in one or more aspects of recycling, including processing, fabrication, manufacturing and marketing of recyclable materials collected from any source. For more information call (212) 688-5700.

Grant The California Integrated Waste Management Board, Sacramento, has awarded $3 million in grants to 34 local governments throughout the state to establish and expand programs to keep household hazardous wastes out of landfills.

Legislation Hollis Devoe, St. Paul, Minn., was convicted for dumping 95,000 tires in Olmsted County, Minn. Devoe was sentenced to 30 days in jail and received a $7,200 fine.

John Carr and Donald Wimmer, co-owners of Electro Precision Inc., each pled guilty to illegally storing and disposing of hazardous waste, ac-cording to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, St. Paul. Carr will serve 120 days in jail; Wimmer will serve 60 days.

New Office ERL, Bloomfield, Conn., has opened a Southeast Regional Office. The address is 1132 Hemingway Ln., Roswell, Ga. 30075. (770) 643-6504. Fax: (770) 643-6507. ERL provides environmental consulting in hazardous waste compliance.

New Facility Waste Control Specialists, Abilene, Texas, has opened a new hazardous waste facility in Andrews County, Texas. The new facility includes an advanced research and development center focusing on waste treatment and reduction.

Request For Partnership Abu Sultan Trading & Cont. Est., Omani, desire to expand their waste and disposal services within the Muscat capital area. They are looking for overseas partners to provide the technology and financing. Contact: Ram Seshan, Abu Sultan Trading & Cont., P.O. Box 2513 Ruwi, Postal Code 112, Sultanate of Oman. Phone: 590968 or 591806. Fax: 591808

BATON ROUGE, La. - A specialized training program for compost facility managers/operators, originally in-tended to help operators become certified - a requirement in Louisiana by 1997 - has evolved into one of the country's premier educational composting programs.

The Compost Facility Operator Training Program is a three-and-a-half day classroom and laboratory course, which has been offered by the Louisiana State University's Agricul-tural Center since 1993. Some 120 students have taken the course, and de-mand for instruction is greater than it can accommodate. This year's training dates are set for May 13-16 and Octo-ber 14-17. It is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Con-servation Service.

Program topics include field dem-onstrations, compost biology, micro-organisms of composting, compostable materials, systems, mixing and recipes, material preparation and handling, facility safety, managing the process, quality and standards, marketing and economics, lab operations, regulations, odor control, sampling and testing techniques.

Course instructors include personnel with the LSU Ag Center's educational and research branches, the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Ser-vice, the Louisiana Agricultural Ex-periment Station and compost industry professionals such as Phil Leege, Procter & Gamble Co.'s senior compost engineer and chair of the Na-tional Composting Council's, Alex-andria, Va., Standards and Practices Committee.

"We've been concentrating on producing compost," Leege said. "Now we need to understand the users of it so that we understand their needs and are able to focus our production based on specific customer needs."

In addition to the course, the LSU Ag Center has an outdoor compost teaching facility, located near the campus in Baton Rouge. Currently, the facility is being considered for pilot testing of national compost standards. The training facility also soon will be expanded to a new 8.5-acre site near the present facility.

To learn more about the LSU Ag Center's Compost Facility Operating Training course, contact Bill Carney, LSU Agricultural Center, P.O. Box 25100, Baton Rouge, La. 70894-5100. (504) 388-6998. Fax: (504) 388-2478. E-Mail: bcarney@agctr.lsu.edu

Funding The Bedford Capital Co., New York City, offers the Bedford Recycling Fund which focuses on firms en-gaged in one or more aspects of re-cycling, including processing, fabrication, manufacturing and market- ing of recyclable materials collected from any source. For more information call (212) 688-5700.

Merger Republic Industries Inc., Ft. Lauder-dale, Fla., has merged with Taro-mina Industries, Anaheim, Calif. The $250 million transaction will be ac-counted for as a pooling of interest.

People Leach Co., Oshkosh, Wis., has ap-pointed Bruce D. Yakley as its new chief operating officer. Hollis Devoe, St. Paul, Minn., was convicted for dumping 95,000 tires in Olmsted County, Minn. Devoe was sentenced to 30 days in jail and received a $7,200 fine.

John Carr and Donald Wimmer, co-owners of Electro Precision Inc., each pled guilty to illegally storing and disposing of hazardous waste, ac-cording to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, St. Paul. Carr will serve 120 days in jail; Wimmer will serve 60 days.

New Office ERL, Bloomfield, Conn., has opened a Southeast Regional Office. The address is 1132 Hemingway Ln., Roswell, Ga. 30075. (770) 643-6504. Fax: (770) 643-6507. ERL provides environmental consulting in hazardous waste compliance.

New Facility Waste Control Specialists, Abilene, Texas, has opened a new hazardous waste facility in Andrews County, Texas. The new facility includes an advanced research and development center focusing on waste treatment and reduction.

Request For Partnership Abu Sultan Trading & Cont. Est., Omani, desire to expand their waste and disposal services within the Muscat capital area. They are looking for overseas partners to provide the technology and financing. Contact: Ram Seshan, Abu Sultan Trading & Cont., P.O. Box 2513 Ruwi, Postal Code 112, Sultanate of Oman. Phone: 590968 or 591806. Fax: 591808