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Articles from 1998 In June
Garbage is Public Property on Curb
Law enforcement officials do not need a warrant to search a trash can that a homeowner sets out for collection in a publicly accessible area next to his house, according to a federal appeals court ruling. [U.S. v. Redmon, No. 96-3361, 7th Cir., March 10, 1998.]
Drug enforcement agents in Urbana, Ill., got word from an informant that a man named "Shaw" was expecting a shipment of cocaine. An undercover agent delivered a cocaine package to Shaw, who, when questioned, claimed he had received it for Joseph Redmon.
Redmon and his next-door neighbor owned townhouse units with adjoining garages and shared a common driveway. To reach their respective entryways, one had to proceed up the driveway toward the garages.
A sidewalk to Redmon's front door branched to the left. To reach the neighbor's front door, one had to take the walk to the right.
Under suspicion for narcotics dealing, Redmon was observed on trash collection days removing garbage cans from his garage and placing them on the driveway between the garage doors. After the trash was picked up, he would carry the empty cans back inside his garage. A city ordinance banned curbside placement of cans.
Acting without a search warrant, the police sifted through the contents of Redmon's garbage while the cans were sitting outside his garage awaiting collection. They found bags and other material commonly used in packing and shipping drugs. What's more, the seized items tested positive for cocaine.
Based on the garbage can evidence, a judge issued a search warrant for Redmon's house where police found packages of cocaine. A federal grand jury later indicted Redmon for possessing and intending to distribute illegal drugs.
Redmon challenged the warrant that was obtained on the basis of items taken from his garbage cans. He argued that the searches were unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and he attempted to prevent the prosecutors from using the resulting evidence against him. U.S. District Judge Harold A. Baker, however, refused to exclude such evidence.
On appeal, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, by an 8-5 margin, upheld the district court's ruling. The majority opinion noted that not every "police peek into a suspicious garbage can ... requires a warrant."
In 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police officers did not need a warrant to examine the contents of plastic garbage bags that a homeowner had placed at the curb [California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35]. The high court held that individuals could have no reasonable expectation of privacy in trash left for collection in an area accessible to the public.
As Redmon could not place his trash at curbside without violating the local ordinance, his "curb" for garbage pickup purposes was outside his garage on the shared driveway, the appeals court concluded. The path to his front door came near the garbage cans with no obstruction and was accessible by friends, guests, neighbors, solicitors, strangers, scavengers and other members of the public, the majority said.
Adopting the Greenwood standard, the appeals court rejected Redmon's claim that items seized from his trash without a warrant violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment.
"It takes little more than a look at the plat ... showing the Redmon location at the intersection of two city streets and the short common driveway-sidewalk arrangement with his neighbor to see how very publicly exposed and accessible Redmon left his garbage," the majority opinion said.
Separate concurring opinions by three judges mentioned "abandonment" as another reason to deny Fourth Amendment protection for garbage. Thus, if an individual customarily deposits his garbage in a receptacle and leaves it for pickup by trash collectors, "he has manifested an intent to abandon his refuse," which is "tantamount to 'throwing away' [an accepted and reasonable] subjective exception of privacy in it ...," a concurring opinion said.
Five judges joined in a dissenting opinion, asserting that trash was protected against warrantless searches because homeowners generally assume that the contents of garbage cans placed near their dwelling remain private property until the trash collectors cart the material away.
"It is tempting to suppose that the search of a garbage can could never violate [privacy rights] because the act of discarding something ... is a relinquishment of any interest in it," the dissent said. "But that answer ... would entitle the police to enter the home itself and rifle the trash cans ... found there."
UPDATE: Project Learning Tree Develops Solid Waste Branch
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Reading, writing and arithmetic are staples in a child's education. Soon, waste management may be, too.
Project Learning Tree (PLT) has created "Exploring Environmental Issues: Municipal Solid Waste," a curriculum that teaches students about the municipal solid waste stream, source reduction, recycling and economics, composting, waste-to-energy, landfills and waste management strategies and solutions so that they can make informed decisions in their communities.
Geared toward grades 9-12 (it can be adapted for middle school use), the curriculum incorporates science, math, history, language arts and computer science - to make it easy for teachers to integrate the program into their existing lessons - in eight hands-on activities.
Waste management professionals also have opportunities to learn. They can attend workshops and be trained to teach educators the curriculum, according to Sheri Sykes Soyka, associate director for PLT.
"We develop the materials and have partners in every state that serve as state coordinators to train volunteers and resource specialists," Soyka says. "Then, the resource professionals can teach others by holding their own workshops."
Professionals who can't attend a workshop still can help.
Contact your state coordinator and let him or her know what you are a specialist in, Soyka says. "Let the trainer know what resources are available, if you can organize site tours, talk at a workshop or school, etc. We want to involve professionals in the solid waste industry as much as possible."
PLT is an environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation. Approximately 7,000 copies of the waste management curriculum have been distributed since it began in 1997.
For more information or to get involved, contact the American Forest Foundation: 1111 19th Street NW #780; Washington, D.C. 20036. Telephone toll free: (888) 889-4466. A list of state coordinators can be found on PLT's website: www.plt.org
Open Heart Landfill Surgery: A Critical Connection
Horizontal landfill expansions - often designed in a "piggy-back" fashion adjacent to disposal areas to allow new refuse to be placed over capped and closed slopes - have become a traditional way to maximize airspace. Waste Management of Pennsylvania, Morrisville, however, decided on an unconventional twist to this process: a horizontal expansion of a double-lined landfill equipped with a side slope riser leachate pump system.
Because of its complexities, horizontal expansions have not been considered an option at landfills using leachate pump systems. For example, in the case of Tullytown (Pa.) Resource Recovery Facility southern expansion of 120 acres, the critical element was constructing new disposal cells adjacent to the existing site, and, in the process, connecting liner and leachate collection systems - a project that had never been attempted previously at a Waste Management facility.
Tullytown's disposal areas used a pumped leachate extraction system installed into side slope riser pipes that rested on the geosynthetic liner system. Without the piggyback expansion, Tullytown would lose a significant volume of airspace.
Before expansion could begin, the pumped system had to be removed because there was no practical way to maintain the pumps and electrical system under the new waste. The pumped system would be replaced by a dual-containment, gravity leachate system, which would allow waste from a new landfill cell to be placed directly onto the adjacent waste slope area of the existing cell.
Once the pumped system was removed, the new systems needed to be connected to the existing cells' leachate collection systems and routed below the future double-lined disposal area. This design allows for continuous liquid collection and transmission from the existing landfill cells.
Connecting the gravity system to the existing cells' leachate collection systems called for excavation of the final cover soils and refuse up to 50 foot depths - exposing the existing primary and secondary liners and main leachate collection pipes. To manage the leachate until the final pipe connections were made, temporary high-density polyethylene (HDPE) flaps were installed.
To complicate the project, soft river dredge material had to be removed to accommodate the gravity leachate pipes. These dredge deposits - some 25 feet thick- were replaced with compacted structural fill to serve as the new disposal area's foundation soils.
Once the dredge was removed, leachate pipes were embedded in compacted pea gravel. Line and grade for the dual containment piping was maintained by continual construction surveying and laser control.
Due to the trench's proximity to the existing landfill liner system, the general contractor, OHM Remediation Services, Trenton, N.J., devised a support system to keep the trench stable during open excavation. A cantilevered wall design (bottom end fixed into the soil) was selected. Sixty-feet-long steel sheets were driven 10 feet underground and placed along 800 lineal feet of the excavation.
A sheetpile cofferdam was installed along 100 feet of the corridor to create a temporary, watertight enclosure. This cofferdam allowed for installation of the dual containment manholes while minimizing groundwater flow into the excavation area.
The support system's design not only maintained trench stability, but also allowed the gravity pipes to be placed only 30 feet from the existing anchor trench.
Instead of excavating through the perimeter soil berm, OHM bored through the berm horizontally to connect the existing landfill collection sumps with the main pipe corridor.
This horizontal boring method, in conjunction with the cantilevered sheet piling trench shoring, provided a cost-effective, safe excavation method.
In addition to saving time and money, these alternate construction methods maintained existing liner system integrity.
Liner Durability The existing liner system had to be reconstructed during expansion, and Waste Management capitalized on the opportunity to study the long-term durability of the landfill's geosynthetics.
When a portion of the liner was removed to make the leachate piping connection, samples of the geomembrane were sent for laboratory testing at the Geosynthetic Research Institute at Drexel University, Philadelphia.
The evaluation concluded that the HDPE's physical properties suffered no degradation even though the liner had been exposed to leachate, methane and static and dynamic stresses for approximately eight years.
The data also indicated that the HDPE had not aged to any measurable degree since its installation in 1988. Thus, Tullytown's selection of HDPE as the synthetic barrier was technically sound.
Getting the Best Bang for the Waste Buck
Integrated waste processing - a new concept for material recovery facilities (MRF) - has been pioneered in a small, rural community in the Deep South.
Unlike conventional MRFs, the $53 million plant, owned by the Solid Waste Management Authority of Crisp County, Ga., will not only separate waste, it also will produce and market raw materials ready for manufacturing processes and for consumer markets.
"Most MRFs separate materials then market [them] to processors that supply manufacturers and consumers," says John H. Hayes, chairman and CEO of Municipal Waste Management (MWM), the Atlanta-based firm that designed and built the facility. "Our idea is to continue where MRFs leave off."
MWM will operate the facility under a 5-year contract.
The processes and procedures that drive the plant were developed by Wastech Equipment LLC, an Atlanta-based engineering firm, and MWM. These engineers selected the equipment and integrated each piece of hardware into a processing system that achieves the goals set by Crisp County.
Wastech specified approximately $12.6 million in processing equipment, some of which handles conventional MRF tasks in conventional ways and some of which automates those tasks with state-of-the-art advancements in equipment design. All of the equipment has been chosen to support the concept of integrated waste processing.
The idea of integrated waste processing has been around for years. While definitions of the term vary, Hayes says it is the complete integration of hauling, material recovery, material processing and marketing. "The key has been to integrate the end markets into the design of the facility," he says.
The idea extends the facility's design considerations to include finished products. First, MWM determined which end products this facility could produce and who would buy those products. Then, it identified end-uses for recyclables.
Potential manufacturing customers needing raw materials liked this new concept. In fact, early in the design process, MWM received letters of intent from manufacturers agreeing to purchase separated green and clear PET products; natural and mixed HDPE products; junk plastic; ferrous and non-ferrous metal products; white goods, including any gases; No. 8 and No. 6 newsprint and old corrugated cartons; and glass.
Composting using food wastes and items such as soiled paper and tobacco waste, also plays a large role. "Once we get state certification, we'll produce a compost product suitable for marketing in bulk and in bags," Hayes says.
In every case, except metals, the materials flowing into the Crisp County plant will flow out as a finished product. "In this plant, metals will not be mill ready," Hayes says.
Once MWM established its marketing concept, Wastech created the system. Specifying and buying equipment to fit specific concepts involves evaluating a number of options, according to Rodney Bowers, Wastech's executive vice president and CEO. "There is a lot of new technology today," Bowers says. "Advances in other industries, such as metallurgy for example, now have been applied to waste processing. As a result, you see better designs and fabrication techniques, along with better overall quality. And, as the waste industry has grown more sophisticated, the number of good suppliers has grown."
However, specifying a system for the Crisp County facility demanded the careful planning of its configuration and redundancies, equipment selection, logistics, warranty negotiations and financing.
Making Room for the Trash Because approximately 87 percent of the waste stream will be segregated, processed and reused, the plant had to be capable of handling 1,700 tons per day.
The remaining 13 percent will be baled and placed in an on-site Subtitle D balefill. The goal is to take the place of 16 landfills that are closing across southern Georgia.
In addition, a large composting area will produce an estimated 206 finished tons of compost and 190 tons of aggregate and ground cover daily.
The 54-acre landfill and 9-acre composting area limit the space available to the processing plant. As a result, it had to fit into a 300-foot by 635-footprint jammed with conveyors and processing equipment.
This created difficulties for the plant design, Bowers says. Crisp County could buy more land to build a plant with a larger footprint or hold firm on site costs and pay more to design a two-level plant.
"We went up with a two-tiered processing system," Bowers says. "That raised the cost of the plant in terms of the design and layout of the equipment."
More space constraints and cost issues arose from the redundancy needs of the front-end MRF system. The plant's permits require that all waste materials move out of the facility within 72 hours.
As a result, Wastech engineers purchased a redundant front-end system with two bag openers, two trommels, two low-speed shredders and two conveyor lines with picker stations.
Bowers notes that "redundancy carries higher up-front costs," because you pay for more equipment plus its installation and check-out. The trade-off is the cost for repairing a major piece of equipment within a day or two to ensure that you fulfill your permitting requirements.
"A redundant system is a form of insurance, and determining how much of this kind of insurance you need is an important part of equipment buying," he adds.
Chewing up Waste, not Time The heart of the Crisp County plant are nine major systems. In purchasing equipment for those systems, Wastech conducted extensive research into competing technologies, considering issues such as processing requirements, space allocation, reliability, delivery logistics, installation, modification needs, cost, warranties and financing:
* Bag openers. Wastech opted to start the line with two model 84 Lib-A-Rader bag openers. The largest bag openers produced by Rader Resource Recovery Inc., Memphis, Tenn., this equipment can open up to 65 tons of bags per hour.
When selecting the bag openers, Wastech visited several facilities unaccompanied by a manufacturers' representative. "We tried to do this with every piece of equipment we selected," Bowers says. "We wanted a candid assessment of the reliability, ease of operation and problems."
Wastech spec'd machines with moving tines as opposed to knife blade openers or stationary blade openers. The specifications also called for an independent control panel on the machine itself.
"We wanted a control system that would enable the operator to pull the tines up and allow inappropriate material that might damage the tines to flow through on the conveyor to other areas of the system," Bowers says.
* Trommels. Triple S Dynamics, Dallas, supplied two large trommels for the Crisp County facility, building both to Wastech's specifications. "Size was important with the trommels," Bowers says. "Our application involves a large process flow, so this equipment must handle 90 tons per hour per trommel. That required machines 10 feet in diameter and 74 feet long."
Selecting a supplier for large trommels involves making judgments about logistics and installation issues. For example, the Triple S trommels traveled from Dallas to Crisp County on a special truck following a special route created by computer routing software.
"The route had to accommodate the height of the machines and the turning radius of the vehicle," Bowers says. "We had to inform the departments of transportation in the states we were passing through. In some cases, the state helped us to find a better route. We also tracked the progress of the trip with a global positioning system."
Such considerations raise the cost of any large piece of equipment. According to Bowers, much of the large Crisp County equipment required special procedures to ship, off-load and place. Costs that often are overlooked include transportation, cranes and installation labor.
"You have to plan carefully," Bowers says. "If you arrange to have a crane on Friday, and the equipment doesn't show up until Monday, you've created a cost problem."
To control these costs, it's important to establish what will incur up front, Bowers notes. At that point, the parties can negotiate and massage potential problems. If the buyer neglects to negotiate the cost of lifting a machine off the truck or misses a delivery time by 48 hours, the facility will face cost overruns as a result.
* Balers. Wastech purchased four balers from the Harris Waste Management Group, Baxley, Ga. Two Harris Selco model HLO-8110 AR 150 horsepower (hp) machines with fluffers bale landfill material that cannot be made into commodities. These balers are positioned in the line between the bag openers and the trommels.
The other two balers include another 8110 model running at 150 hp and a Harris Selco model HLO-7110 AR 100 hp machine. These handle commodity products after they move past the main picking platform.
* Low-speed shredders. Mac Saturn Shredders, Grand Prairie, Texas, supplied two shredders - one for each of the facility's two lines.
"We bought off-the-shelf shredders because we were able to specify the width of the shredding wheels and the tonnage per hour," Bowers says.
"We needed approximately 50 tons per hour of throughput, with a surge capability of 65 tons per hour."
* Plastic separator. Wastech spec'd a system supplied by MSS, Nashville, Tenn., to separate plastic materials. "This equipment uses optical sensors and X-ray emitters to distinguish colors and polymers and to send specific materials to one of five separate conveyor lines," Bowers says.
Although the automated plastic separator is expensive, Bowers says the higher cost is justified because it separates plastic more accurately than human pickers. Bowers also explains that plastic separation "can operate independently of pickers at earlier stations. For example, we can stop the plastic separator and still fill the bunker with unseparated plastic material to be sorted during another shift."
The plant also has a plastic debaler feeding another line into the plastic separator.
The debaler allows the plant to take in baled plastic from other sources, run it through the separator and send it to the grinding and washing line. "This allows us to use the separator even when there is no trash in the facility," Bowers says.
* Plastic grinders and washers. The largest system in the Crisp County plant is the plastic grinding and washing equipment, which includes four silos, five grinders, four float-sink tanks and several dryers and accumulators.
MA Industries, Peachtree City, Ga., supplied this system, which helps transform a MRF into an integrated material processing facility.
The plastic separation system feeds material into the grinders that produce plastic flake for temporary storage in the plastic silos.
From there, conveyors dump the flake into float-sink tanks that wash the material and remove labels and adhesives. The float-sink tanks also use specific gravity to separate polymers further.
"After drying the material, you're left with good flake plastic that manufacturers can use as a raw material," Bowers says. "We could have baled the plastic before grinding it, but flake is a more valuable product in the marketplace."
* Aggregate separating system. Triple S Dynamics provided the aggregate separating system, whose components are stacked on top of the other and rise to the facility's third floor. Material feeds in from the top and works its way down through a gravity separator, an inert separator and a vibratory shaker. A hammermill supplied by Jeffrey, Duncan, S.C., also is part of the system.
"This system separates out rocks, stones, broken glass, coins, batteries and other materials that are less than 2 inches in diameter," Bowers says. "The plant then will grind the stones and some of the glass for use as a composting feedstock. The rest of the material from this line goes to the landfill."
* Conveyor system. The conveyors that feed the picking stations, bag openers, trommels, aggregate system and other plant systems were built by Norcon Systems Inc., Rome, Ga.
The conveyor line includes hoppers, shoots, plastics perforators and glass breakers to help reduce the materials' volume. The components of the facilitywide conveyor network make it the most expensive system in the facility.
* Mixing drum. Leftover organic materials and some of the paper from plant processes flow into a 50-foot long, 8-foot diameter mixing drum supplied by Bouldin and Lawson, McMinnville, Tenn. The drum adds water and nitrogen pellets through a nozzle system to aid the chemical breakdown of these materials, which then become part of the feedstock for the composting system.
* Windrow turners. Wastech specified two FM18 windrow turners with customized irrigation systems from the Frontier Manufacturing Co., Woodburn, Ore., to anchor the facility's composting system. The 18-foot by 7-foot machines are powered by 460 hp diesel engines.
Warranties and Financing Wastech paid particular attention to warranties and financing when evaluating equipment.
The suppliers offered warranties with different terms, varying from 90 days to 18 months.
In light of the complexity and interdependence of the systems in the plant, Wastech executives decided to have at least 12 months of warranty support for each piece of equipment. "We negotiated with suppliers offering shorter warranties to extend their coverage," Bowers says.
Did extending warranties raise the cost? Not in this case, according to Bowers. Because of the visibility of the project, suppliers generally acquiesced. Wastech also negotiated a payment plan with the equipment suppliers, based on the financing method favored by the Solid Waste Authority.
The authority acquired financing for the entire project, including the equipment, through a consortium of banks. Under this arrangement, the financial institutions required performance bonds on all equipment and payment bonds on all suppliers.
Once suppliers satisfied the bond requirements, Wastech set up the payment plan, which began with deposits and included additional payments as fabrication progressed through installation.
"The authority controlled the money," Bowers says. "It paid us based on our documentation of the progress of each component in the system, and we issued the progress payments to the suppliers."
After a period of successful testing, the Crisp County plant began accepting its full amount of waste on June 1, 1998.
As the amount of waste produced annually grows and as recycling awareness and acceptance increases, so does the need for equipment to manage this waste. Because this equipment is not cheap, demands are rising as buyers seek the most cost-effective solution for good used and refurbished recycling equipment.
The main advantage to buying new equipment is maintenance support and warranties. Not all used equipment comes with a warranty, although some dealers refurbish used equipment, then guarantee it.
Two key pieces of recycling equipment - tubgrinders and shredders - usually have:
* replaceable and/or repairable components, and
* the equipment manufacturer's brand of hammermills and rotors, which vary in size and can be replaced by the new owners.
Unless the equipment has been abused or not maintained, 5- to 6-year-old used equipment can sell for less than half the cost of the same new equipment and still operate at close to the same costs as new equipment.
Before buying used, assess your operational needs, such as production rates and operating costs. Be specific about the type, size, condition and end-use of the material that will be processed.
As a buyer, you must be aware of the total hours on the used equipment and should ask for all maintenance records. Pay attention to the hours on the equipment rather than its age. Also, make sure to buy the right equipment for the job.
The costs for used recycling equipment is seasonal, with the best buys usually in December through February. Also, the used equipment business is competitive, so get quotes and information from two or three vendors.
Managing Your Promotion
You finally have gotten that promotion, and now you are a supervisor. Your hard work, study, extra effort and dedication have paid off. But something is wrong. Things aren't working out as planned.
You know the people on your team, and they know you. So, what's the problem? Maybe you are. Your team knew you as a co-worker, but now, you are a supervisor. You are an unknown.
If you are fortunate enough to have come from the ranks of the class you will be supervising, you start out with intimate knowledge of what their jobs are like. However, if you came from another class, then you are not only bereft of that experience, but you may be considered to be a "know-nothing" by those you supervise. In either case, you are the supervisor and have to think of yourself in that position.
Knowing your employees' abilities and weaknesses, and having first-hand experience of their tasks is essential. Almost all groups will gauge your management style over time, forming opinions that will last throughout your tenure.
They also will be concerned about losing the perks they have wrangled from the former supervisor, their hard-fought time schedules, their status and the alliances they have forged.
New supervisors should start by making only those changes that are immediately necessary. Then, observe the current practices before working on major changes. When you are ready to make changes, you should announce them beforehand to the groups being affected and allow for discussion. Therefore, once changes are put in motion, no one can say that he or she was not informed.
If you know your employees well enough, pre-sell your proposals one-on-one to influential employees before holding a group meeting. This might ferret out flaws and will alleviate the chances that you'll appear like an uninformed fool.
There are two basic supervisory types: steady and unsteady.
* The steady type encompasses the "lift that bale, tote that barge" supervisor who nurtures bitter regrets over the waning of slavery. This type brooks no deviance from his all-controlling dictates, using harsh discipline readily for any infractions.
* The unsteady type is the "firm, but fair" supervisor. He is willing to seek feedback, explain his rationale and make alterations when needed. He is more likely to use progressive discipline when persuasion doesn't suffice.
The unsteady type is polarized into "The Politician" and "The Bouncing Ball" styles. "The Politician" adopts the opinion of the majority in all things, taking a straw poll of opinion and then deciding with the majority.
"The Bouncing Ball" adopts the opinion of others, but the "others" are usually a writer, politician, commentator or other authority figure regardless of whether they have expertise in the field.
The worst despot is sufferable because he is predictable. The best ambivalent neurotic is terrifying because you never know what the rules are. Whatever kind of supervisor you chose to be, be consistent.
Good supervisors try to educate those they supervise at every opportunity. Educating someone is a sign you acknowledge that person's worth.
Many supervisors are afraid that if they educate employees, they will be promoted, leaving a position that might be filled by a rookie who will start from scratch. Some supervisors are so insecure that they are afraid that giving any information to employees diminishes their own superiority.
In reality, anything you can do to enhance your employees' skills enhances your own status.
Smart supervisors note the skills exhibited by their own supervisors. Some supervisors make you want to gain their approval, while others make you want to find another job.
Motivation is key and runs the gamut from punishment to encouragement. The best supervisors encourage their employees to do their best, not for the company's bottom line, but for their own benefit. They nurture their employees' skills or natural talents.
If this sounds like grooming your own replacement, you're correct. Training subordinates to become future supervisors not only produces better morale and enhances the work effort, but it also ensures that there are people who can fill in for you while you're ill or on vacation. They become a natural resource who will facilitate your own promotion because there is someone who can take your place. If anyone doesn't think that happens, ask around.
Got a question about your solid waste operations or want to sound off? Contact Bill Knapp c/o World Wastes at 6151 Powers Ferry Rd., Atlanta, Ga. 30339. (770) 618-0112. Fax: (770) 618-0349. E-mail: [email protected]
Using Your Arms, Not Your Hands: How Burrtec automated its recycling collection.
Burrtec provides refuse and recycling services to approximately 175,000 residential and 15,000 commercial customers.
Under contract with 15 cities and communities in San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles counties, the company also operates three transfer stations/ material recovery facilities (MRF) and five service yards.
WW: How did you develop your system of automated collection of commingled recyclables?
Herbert: We've converted our recyclables collection to an automated, commingled collection format in many of our jurisdictions. There are still some communities that have manual collection and use either an 18-gallon or a 32-gallon container that we provide.
We have approximately 100,000 customers receiving automated pick-up. The system continues to evolve as we move away from tubs and separating the materials at the curbside.
We approached [the system] by determining what was the most effective means of diversion, high participation rates and ease of customer use. To get key data on participation rates, diverted materials and contamination, we performed a pilot program five years ago in Victorville, Calif., where we automated both refuse and recycling.
WW: What type of equipment did you select for your program?
Herbert: We started automating refuse collection in Fontana, Calif., eight years ago. Since then, Fontana has converted to a three-container automated system. All we've done on the recycling side was build off that information base.
WW: Describe your fleet.
Herbert: We have 45 automated trucks for both refuse and recycling. The chassis that we're using almost entirely have been Volvos, but we do have some Peterbilts that we've picked up. We started buying refuse bodies from Maxon, which came with a Sunbelt arm. We have invested a lot of time and money understanding the mechanics of that arm and perfecting it from the standpoint of maintenance and use.
Since Maxon no longer makes refuse bodies, we're going to be converting over to an as-yet-undetermined manufacturer. At this point, we've purchased some of the arms ourselves and either will specify new bodies with arms or change over to a new arm. We'll debate that when we implement a new program. Right now, we have so many of the automated trucks with the Maxon body and Sunbelt arm configuration that they will continue to comprise a large portion of the fleet.
WW: How did you set up the routing for recyclables collection?
Herbert: Based on data from previous collection programs, we looked at the set-out rates and pounds per set-out. We used that information to determine how many houses we could cover effectively with an automated truck. Then, we considered the area to get a better feel for density or travel between stops.
We have a geographic information system (GIS) that ties into our customer database which we use for all of our routing.
Via the GIS, we can enclose an area and instantly capture that route data. From that data, we can look at the tons pulled and the total house counts.
Once we generate trial route sheets and maps, we drive it to make sure that the route works.
WW: What have been the results of your automated collection of commingled recyclables?
Herbert: The participation level has surprised us. There are more set-outs than you might expect. However, participation varies by community. We're seeing about 70 percent to 75 percent set-outs on a weekly basis.
Another surprise is the fact that we get more pounds per household with the automated commingled system. We've been running approximately 15 to 20 pounds per household, which is more tons than what you would expect on a recycling route.
WW: How's that a change from manual collection?
Herbert: When we ran the earlier, manual program, we gave customers an 18-gallon tub in which they would put containers on the bottom and newspapers on top. On average, we were getting about 10 percent to 20 percent participation on set-outs and about 2 pounds per household. The dramatic increase in set-outs helped us when we started looking at rate designs that facilitated higher diversion and therefore, some savings on disposal.
WW: How does the quality of the material from commingled, automated collection compare to that from manual collection?
Herbert: When the customer segregates the material by the buyers' classification, that material will command the highest price.
When you commingle, you're going to get some contamination, because the customer doesn't always do a good job rinsing things out.
That's particularly true with plastic and glass. Also, paper items can be contaminated by liquids in the container.
When we get to the processing side, if all the material is source-separated by commodity at collection, then we just consolidate the loads.
With commingled collection, however, contamination can occur in processing. We don't get very much of it because we positively sort everything. This creates more non-recyclables because we aren't pulling out contaminated material and thus, are not diverting that material.
There's no question you're going to get more contamination with a commingled system, but when you look at the actual gradation of the materials, there's really no major problem in marketing the material.
WW: Burrtec handles its own processing. If you were a company that didn't have a MRF, what would you have done differently to secure processing for your materials?
Herbert: It's critical that you have a very large base of materials in order to justify the capital investment in the MRF. We process our own materials as well as other people's materials.
When you look at the design of an automated, commingled recycling program, you've got to look at collection, processing, material marketing and residue disposal. All those elements play a role in the program's total cost.
It takes quite a bit of synergy to make the facility go forward. Your success depends on the size of the program and your ability to implement a MRF cost-effectively and still remain competitive.
WW: Define the success of your collection program in terms of efficiency and tons collected.
Herbert: We are very efficient. We've added one twist to the program that we're extremely pleased with: We took the automated truck and split it so that it can co-collect either recyclables and refuse, or recyclables and green waste. We are running that out in the San Gabriel Valley for a couple of communities. This versatility allowed us to clock off 10 percent of our time.
Also, we're getting great diversion. When we get positive customer feedback, and it has good curb appeal, then [we know we've] hit the mark we intended and have put in a program that's built to last.
WW: What advice would you give to a hauler that is interested in implementing an automated, commingled recycling program?
Herbert: First, you must know what your customer is asking for. You've got to build support for the kind of programs you implement, because they don't come for free.
Second, you should have a way to process the materials so that you don't have to drive 40 miles to get rid of them or you don't have to put in an intermediate stop to transfer it.
Look at a few programs, analyze the data and consider what the overall impact of your collection activities will be. This will help you optimize your program.
It is gratifying to hear strong praise from your customers and city officials after you've implemented one of these programs and it works as designed.
I think this bodes well for a company, specifically, and for the industry as a whole. With good planning, data and execution, we all can get to what works best.
Refuse trucks: 45 trucks in the automated collection fleet, including refuse and recycling: Maxon refuse bodies with Sunbelt arms, and Volvo and Peterbilt chassis.
Containers: 40-, 60- and 90-gallon, automated Rehrig-Pacific blue containers.
Customers: 175,000 residential customers and 15,000 commercial customers.
Service area: Burrtec Waste Industries operates in San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles counties. Currently has 15 cities and communities under contract for refuse and recycling services.
Services: Operates three transfer stations or MRF facilities, five collection yards.
Local tipping fees: refuse: $30 - $33/ton.
safety: Include the Customer in Your Safety Plan
Making your transfer station, material recovery facility (MRF) or landfill site safer and more user-friendly can pay dividends for your customer and save money by preventing injuries and potential lawsuits.
Most transfer station, MRF and landfill safety plans include site and construction personnel. But often, the part about customers is not very comprehensive or is missing - despite the fact that customers are the largest group of people who use your site.
Customers can't attend training, so site signs, rules and personnel must guide them. Safety information flyers and rule enforcement also may be necessary.
Falls cause most site injuries. Often, a fall occurs when a customer attempts to pull materials off of a truck or trailer. The materials come loose; the customer loses his or her balance and falls to the ground or into a waste disposal trench or pit.
Causes of injuries, in order of frequency, are:
* cuts or puncture wounds from sharp or pointed objects;
* vehicle accidents; and
* eye injuries, especially from flying objects.
Most severe injuries are vehicle/equipment incidents, with the general public the biggest problem because they have the least off-loading experience.
So how do you prevent injuries from occurring at your site?
* Implement good rule development and warning signs. Site rules can be printed on customer receipts or attached to them. Signs must be sized and placed carefully so customers can read them easily (see chart). Bilingual signs may be necessary.
* Guide customers in site use. But don't tell them how to unload waste material you don't know how the waste was loaded, and you take on some liability if you tell them what to do.
* Use flyers. Rather than specify the equipment and methods for off-loading waste, flyers should notify customers that they are responsible for off-loading waste, as well as suggest how to prevent problems.
* Separate commercial customers from the general public's dumping area. Some landfills use separate areas for the public. Others have commercial trucks dump at the operating face with the public off to the side.
* Separate landfill and transfer station equipment from customers as is practical to minimize conflict. And if a pit or trench is used for storage or all-weather disposal, identify them with signs and wheel stops. The advantage of a pit or trench is that the tipping pad has minimal wear because the site equipment only operates in the trench.
When the site equipment is near customers, however, use a horn. The only disadvantage to this type of operation is that if customers fall, they may fall a few feet farther. Small sites usually need trenches of about 4 feet, while larger sites may need deeper trenches to accommodate several public vehicles.
* Enforce site rules. Site personnel should warn people performing dangerous acts. Management has ultimate control of the site and can deny its use to serious offenders.
For example, a site supervisor observed two men unloading a trailer. When one of the men fell but was not injured while pulling off yard debris from the trailer, the site supervisor cautioned that pulling materials was unsafe. The men then began lifting the material. However, one man climbed on top of the unstable mass. The supervisor warned that working on top of the yard debris was unsafe. The man climbed down, but later climbed on top again and fell shortly after, injuring himself.
No legal action resulted because the supervisor had noted unsafe practices and called them to the customers' attention. He further noted that the accident involved alcohol, as evidenced by a case of empty beer cans in the load and alcohol on the customers' breath.
While these steps are excellent ways to keep customers safe, they cannot be implemented unless site staff is thoroughly trained and the safety program is practical for the operation.
Acquisitions J.V Manufacturing Inc., Springdale, Ark., has purchased Recycling Equipment Service (RES), Sacramento, Calif. RES will be integrating with the service/sales offices J.V. opened in Sacramento.
Superior Services Inc., West Allis, Wis., has acquired Missouri Disposal Partners, Galt, Mo., and will handle operations and administration for it as well as Maple Ridge Landfill in Macon, Mo. Superior also has acquired Longview of Livingston County, Bethany, Mo., and Weaver Sanitation, Punxsutawney, Pa., as well as Alabama Waste Systems Inc. and Acmar Regional Landfill Inc., both in Moody, Ala.
Metropolitan Environmental Inc., Celina, Ohio, has purchased assets and operating locations of Ametech Inc.'s subsidiary Environmental Transportation Services Inc.
The following must be observed
NO SMOKING while driving and in the dumping area.
NO SALVAGING of dumped material.
OBSERVE ALL SPEED LIMIT and traffic signs.
DANGEROUS PRACTICES, such as rapid backing of vehicle to dislodge loads are prohibited.
CHILDREN, PETS AND OTHERS not unloading must remain in vehicle. Drivers and helpers must remain in vicinity of vehicle.
DUMP only in areas designated by landfill personnel.
TOOLS, TAILGATES, ETC. must be kept on, in or under your vehicle. The districts will not accept liability for damage to these items.
INJURY OR DAMAGE to persons or equipment must be reported prior to leaving the site. Do not move damaged vehicle prior to report.
LOAD PULL-OFF is a service accepted at your own risk. The Districts are not liable for vehicle damage or personal injury.
LITTERING on areas within the site will not be tolerated. COVER ALL LOADS.
HOURS OF OPERATION are rigidly adhered to.
HIGHLY FLAMMABLE WASTES such as solvents, thinners or magnesium are NOT ACCEPTABLE.
CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES on property is prohibited.
LOITERING within the site is prohibited.
INSTRUCTIONS of district facility personnel must be followed at all times.
These rules are for your benefit. Serious and/or frequent violations may result in your exclusion from District facilities.
LANDFILL: Mill Weaves Landfill Gas Power into Production
One North Carolina textile manufacturer has gained a new respect for landfills. Cone Mills Corp., Greensboro, now is using the methane gas generated at the city-owned facility to manufacture denim and consumer products at its White Oak plant.
This landfill gas (LFG) recovery project, a partnership between the city of Greensboro, N.C.; Duke Engineering and Services (DE&S), a subsidiary of Duke Energy Co., Charlotte; and Cone, also helped the city meet new regulations without a capital outlay or taxpayer financing.
After reviewing the 1995 Clean Air Act's New Performance Standards, the city discovered that it had to change the way it managed the methane gas generated at its White Street landfill. Previously, the gas had been passively vented.
To meet the new guidelines, the city's options were to:
* Flare the gas. This was the least desirable option because it required a $3 million capital investment while consuming the methane's energy potential.
* Generate electricity. This alternative was given serious consideration especially as the city received more offers from private contractors. While feasible, this alternative was expensive ($4 million estimated capital costs) and had a low rate of return on investment.
* Supply energy to an end user. This alternative resulted in a partnership between Duke Engineering and the city. Tax credits provided DE&S with the return on investment while offering a continuous revenue stream from the sale of the gas.
This met the city's objectives of using gas for energy while addressing the Clean Air Act. The partnership allowed the city to avoid the collection system's capital investment, while providing a royalty payment for the gas rights transferred to DE&S.
During project development, DE&S was conducting boiler realignment at Cone Mills. If the LFG could be piped to the plant without further treatment, capital investment could be minimized. Cone Mills agreed to have the boiler converted to burn the gas and was enthusiastic to use a less-expensive supplemental boiler fuel.
Work began in December 1995, and one year later, LFG was piped to Cone Mills' White Oak Plant.
In the agreement, the city transfers the rights of the gas to DE&S for 12 years, until the year 2007. DE&S is responsible for the pipeline operation and collection system, including well design and installation. The city is paid a royalty from the sale of the gas, based on British thermal units.
Currently, the collection system includes 86 wells with an additional 20 wells to be added by the end of 1998. Daily, the system generates 2.2 million cubic feet of gas, with the potential of producing 3.5 million cubic feet, which addresses Cone's supplemental power requirements.
A flare was installed for emergency use and for when the boilers aren't being used. The blower, used to move gas through the pipeline, is enclosed to reduce noise and to provide a protected area for instrument panels and for maintenance.
Total projected costs for the system is approximately $5 million. Greensboro's investment was the initial feasibility study, as DE&S provided all the capital to build the system. The city receives royalty payments, which increase over the contract period.
The city and Cone Mills received Duke Energy's "Power Partner" award in January 1997 for their collaboration in using LFG.
When the contract expires in 2007, the LFG system's ownership transfers to the city. Then, the city can either operate the system or contract it out.
Over the next year, the city will develop its gas management plan for a new disposal cell that opened December 1997. A number of opportunities exist for using the methane generated in this new cell, including providing energy for the landfill.
New Office Rust Environmental & Infrastructure Inc., Baltimore, has opened a new office in downtown Baltimore. The main telephone number is (410) 385-1434.
Request for Proposals The American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), Washington, D.C., Agenda 2020 Recycling Task Group has issued a request for preproposals (RFP) for fiscal year 2000. Agenda
2020 is designed to stimulate innovations and environmental improvements in manufacturing and forestry. The deadline for submitting a two-page preproposal is August 1, 1998. Research aimed at reducing energy use, improving fiber yield and eliminating stickies contamination is encouraged. For a copy of the RFP, fax a request to the AF&PA, Attn.: Cindy Tabb at (202) 463-2423. Information also is available on: www.afandpa.org
Recycling Watch: Food and Consumer Products * Chesebrough-Ponds saves roughly 240 tons of polyethylene, 2 tons of polypropylene and 40.4 tons of styrene on packaging annually. Likewise, cartons for Lipton Soup Secrets, Recipe Secrets and Cup-a-Soup are made from 100 percent recycled paperboard (35 percent of which is post consumer).
* Nestle USA packages its Taster's Choice Freeze Dried Coffee, Carnation Instant Breakfast, Libby's Pumpkin, Oretaga Mexican food products, Mighty Dog dog food, Fancy Feast cat food and Friskies and Alpo dry cat foods in recycled materials, be they glass, aluminum, steel or paperboard. Overall, Nestle reduced the amount of materials used in its packaging by more than 2,500 tons in 1996 alone.
* By using a 84-percent recycled-fiber shipping, The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. reduced the amount of pure virgin fiber used in its corrugated shipping containers by 2,300 tons per year. Wrigley also is testing the performance and durability of a 15 percent lighter shipping container.
* Packaging for Nabisco's Snackwells and Ritz crackers and Cream of Wheat are made of 100 percent recycled board. Grey Poupon and A1 are packaged in recycled glass. Similarly, Fleischmanns Fat-Free Buttery Original and Parkay Buttery Spray are packaged in recycled polyethylene.
* In 1996, Coors Brewing Company increased the recycled content of its aluminum cans to 69 percent, representing more than 40,000 tons of packaging material saved; and glass bottles to 23 percent, a diversion of more than 71,000 tons. Coors' stainless steel kegs contain 50 percent recycled material as well.
Source: Grocery Manufactures of America, Washington, D.C.
Gone with the Wind
Controlling facility odor can make solid waste managers feel like NBA players trying to stop Michael "Air" Jordan on a basketball court. Stopping the Bulls' No. 23 is easier said than done. Ditto for odor.
Often pegged as the biggest problem plaguing waste facilities, odor can slam dunk companies that don't control their sites' stomach-turning smells.
Although there are no federal regulations governing odor currently, companies must contain stench in some way, or they will surely hear about it from neighbors and employees.
There are many methods to combat odor - chemicals, coverings and specially designed facilities - but if solid waste managers want to win, they must start with a game plan, money and dedication.
Ready to play? Consider the following examples of successful teams that are beating this revolting rival.
Covering the Bases Mark Eyeington, director of solid waste management operations at the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County, Palm Beach, Calif., uses a combination of methods to nullify noxious odors, including coverings, chemicals and plants. The authority handles all the waste generated by the county and operates landfills, ferrous reclamation and transfer stations.
Eyeington's stringent operational practices include covering waste, ensuring proper drainage and preventing garbage from blowing into employees' faces.
The Palm Beach facilities run both Class 1 (industrial waste and ash) and Class 3 (inert garbage and construction debris) landfills. Class 1 landfills have a double plastic liner, while Class 3 sites, which tend to be smellier because they contain more vegetation and sulfur, require a single liner. Gas recovery is done at all active landfills.
Wells are sunk both horizontally and vertically, and gas is extracted from the fill. Odor-controlling products also are used.
"We use a misting system on the perimeter of the landfill and, in some cases, on the top," Eyeington says. "It sprays a masking agent rather than a neutralizer. I won't call it a 'chemical' because that has negative connotations. Rather, it's a nontoxic, pleasant, aromatic scent that overpowers the odor."
Still, such defense methods do not completely solve the problem. Palm Beach's biggest challenge, Eyeington says, is an upscale neighborhood less than a mile away from the fill. Palm Beach County waste officials meet with residents quarterly and have set up a hotline so that residents can report unneighborly smells.
"We monitor the fill and environmental conditions, and track complaints using a database," he explains. "We also are rebuilding a full weather station that will monitor the wind direction and speed, barometric pressure, humidity and temperature. It's all computerized, and it's much more efficient than a windsock on the edge of the fill."
Palm Beach also plants naturally aromatic plants, such as lemon and orange trees, and night-blooming jasmine, around the fill's edge.
Eyeington says this greenery offers a pleasant scent and looks nice, although alone it isn't enough to sufficiently stifle foul smells. Because the most cost-effective methods are preferred, Eyeington says he thinks gas recovery systems "give the best bang for the buck," but quickly adds that "good housekeeping also is key."
Palm Beach runs its misting system selectively - only when the wind is blowing toward the neighborhood. In addition, the authority employs a "close as you go" philosophy so that only small portions of the fill are exposed at any time, reducing the chance that the odor will be picked up by the wind.
Knocking out Odor Wayne Rathbun, site manager at Waste Management Inc., Tulsa, Okla., aims to knock out odor before it becomes a factor by renting neutralizer units manufactured by Howe-Baker Engineers, Tyler, Texas, to his customers.
This method eliminates odors in the air by turning them into ozone, a form of oxygen with energy added to it that is more chemically active than oxygen.
The self-contained units, which can operate unattended and don't require chemicals, clear the air in six to eight hours by emitting ozone that breaks down odor molecules, Rathbun says.
However, the units must operate in a confined location, such as a truck or garbage container, due to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandate that people cannot be in the same room with an ozone generator.
The ozone combines with odor molecules to create different compounds. Odor molecules are typically hydrocarbons, and when they are combined with ozone, the resulting compounds are water vapor and carbon dioxide.
Besides controlling odor, ozone also retards bacterial growth and reduces the festering slime and mildew in trucks and trash containers.
Richard White, director of public works in Fairfield, Conn., also has scored big points against odor. The town's composting facility, which sits square in the town's center, has intermittent odor problems.
For the past six years, White has defended Fairfield against stench with the help of products from NaturePlus, Stratford, Conn.
These fermentation-based products are comprised of ingredients such as molasses and coconut oil which can be used to control human and animal odors, as well as garbage smells.
The nontoxic ingredients form a sprayable liquid that breaks down the odor-causing compounds.
To keep costs low, White installed a new low-pressure pump module in the facility to automatically dispense the solution and also purchased dilutable formulas. "Complaints have dropped off significantly since [we started] using the products," White notes. "[We] didn't get any [complaints] last summer, despite the unusually dry and warm weather."
Fighting Foulness with Fog The key to beating the offense is to put up a keen defense - or in this case, one that intercepts odor before it escapes the facility.
Bill Johnson, maintenance operator at Yuba City, Calif.'s Water Reclamation Plant, battles odor with foggers, deodorizers and deodorizing liquids - an odor control cocktail that has reduced the amount of complaints the facility receives.
Johnson uses 10 foggers, manufactured by Fogmaster Corp., Deerfield Beach, Fla., that run continually for two hours.
Features include one valve that allows users to control the flow of particles and another valve that provides control over the size of particles expelled.
The foggers combine chemicals and water and then release the mixture into the air as a mist, which can either be heavy or light, depending on the setting. A repeat cycle timer allows users to set fog intervals.
"We run the foggers when the wind blows from the North because the [residences] are on the South side," Johnson explains. "They're set to use 2 ounces to 10 ounces [of deodorizing chemicals] per minute, and we can adjust that according to what we need."
Whether you have chemicals, nature or electric stink zappers on your team, playing against odor is not fun and games. And while odor is a formidable foe, it's not impossible to beat.
Even Jordan has his off days.
If your mind starts to reel when you ponder how best to combat your facility's odor problems, the following checklist might help: * Do you have an odor problem? Admitting you have a problem is the first step, says Sheldon Murphy of NaturePlus, Stratford, Conn. Just because you haven't had complaints doesn't mean there isn't a problem - or a potential problem waiting to pop up.
* Do you want to do something about your facility's odor? "There aren't a lot of [managers] out there who say, 'I have a social responsibility to the community,'" Murphy says. You must understand the costs and commitment required not only to control odor, but also to continue the job on a daily basis.
* What is your budget? Decide what you are willing to spend to get the job done. "[Odor control is] a long-term plan. The more visionary managers are, the easier it is to work with them," Murphy says. "Facility operators often make decisions that are really short-term solutions. We get requests from people wanting quick fixes, but if you go cheap, you get what you pay for."
* Do you know your enemy? The appropriate odor control plan depends on the type and the strength of the odor you want to obliterate, says Curtis Nipp of the Sonozaire Division of Howe-Baker Engineers, Tyler, Texas.
"[When contacted by an interested party,] I [first] find out what kind of odor it is that a facility manager is trying to control," he says.
Knowing the particulars of the odor's source and environment - the size of the compactor/container and whether the odor is generated indoors or outdoors - will help you be as specific as possible when targeting the best odor control solution.
Scientists at the University of Missouri, Columbia, are going hog wild trying to combat animal odors, which are difficult to neutralize and mask.
The arresting aroma produced by pigs in particular is not only one of the most difficult smells to control, but it also is noxious enough to make anyone within a two-mile radius pinch his nose.
A group of researchers at the university is attempting to control the offensive odor by starting at the source - the hogs. In this process, there are no chemicals or machines involved.
Instead, the scientists have discovered that they can deodorize hog farms by modifying the pigs' diets.
The theory: If hogs eat exactly the right amount and the right types of food, then more food is used by their bodies and less is excreted.
By reducing the amounts of nitrogen in the hog excrement, the stink decreases as well, according to researcher Mark Newcomb. To this end, Newcomb has developed ideal protein-ration diets for hogs. By adjusting the proportions of what is consumed by the hogs, the researchers also can control what comes out.
But putting hogs on diets isn't enough to solve the problem. At hog farms, manure typically is collected in lagoons where bacteria breaks it down, producing a putrid stench.
To combat this odor, animal scientist Trygve Veum discovered that polyphenol, a chemical found in Japanese tea, can be added to hog manure.
Veum found that this chemical actually lowers the bacterial production of the organic compounds that create the smell.
While polyphenol may not make hog farms smell as sweet as roses, tea certainly would be a marked improvement over the offensive animal odors that are so difficult to neutralize.