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Recycling program to increase landfill longevity

Modified: Wednesday, Apr 2nd, 2014

KEMMERER — Residents of Kemmerer and Diamondville may have noticed an extra, yellow piece of paper in their water bills last month. That piece of paper was a questionnaire gauging interest in a county recycling program while also feeling out any worries that people in the community may have.

The recycling plan, as it’s currently written, would involve the need for a second bin for recycling. Garbage and recycling collections would be picked up every other week. This alternating schedule avoids increasing collection costs, while also keeping rates from rising.

Recycling that isn’t contaminated would then be sold to a material recovery facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, for about $40 per ton. That price would fluctuate based on the current market but is seen as a way to supplement and eventually lower costs.

Currently items that have the ability of being recycled take up more volume in the landfill.

The entire goal of the recycling program is to save the county money, in turn saving residents money, while increasing the longevity of the engineered containment system (ECS). The ECS is a lined pit consisting of multiple layers that are designed to protect aquifers from leachate seepage. Leachate is the water collected that is filled with contaminants from the garbage in the pit.

The pit consists of a synthetic layer, a plastic layer, a protective cover, a waste layer, and a drainage and pipe system. This system cost just under $2.9 million dollars to permit, engineer, and construct; a cost that had to be borne up front.

Out of the 21 acres that’s permitted to be designed upon, only four of the acres are being used for a disposal area. There are two 2.7-acre leachate ponds in the area as well.

Approximately half, by weight, of the waste typically thrown in the garbage can be recycled.” Solid Waste Director Mary Crosby said. “Since burying garbage is by volume (cubic yard) rather than weight, recyclable items tend to be less dense, even when compacted, and thus take up more volume per ton than the organic waste.”

The capacity of the current ECS is slated to be available through 2050, but it’s Crosby’s hope that the recycling program could potentially double that.

“We do have people who recycle already, but when all is said and done, this has the potential to reduce what we bury by about 50 percent, thus doubling the life of the lined facility,” she said.

Another goal of the program is to save both the county and residents money. To buy bins dedicated for recycling would cost Kemmerer and Diamondville about $150,000 combined.

Community concern was expressed in the survey over cost of the bins. One comment stated, “I already take my recycling to Diamondville center. Prefer continuing that if this will raise my garbage rate”

The questionnaire that was sent out, it was said that the county was applying for two different grants to cover the cost of the new bins but that went nowhere.

“We put in for the grants, but the grants aren’t going to work for how they’re categorized,” Crosby said. “We’re still looking at it, though, as there is funding specific to landfills.”

Crosby did sympathize with concerns of people in the community, involving price.

“The last thing we want to do is cost everybody more money,” she said.

Another concern that was mentioned involved taking work away from LSR but Crosby was optimistic about the things that could be done to offset that work loss.

“People are worried about us taking work away from LSR, but there are things we can do to make up for that potential loss of profit,” she said.

Others were concerned with the every-other-week alternating trash and recycling pickup plan that the questionnaire suggested, as trash breaking down in the summer would progressively get smellier. People are worried that the odor could make for unbearable living conditions in the summer, as well as attract animals and pests.

Even Crosby doesn’t know what the outcome of that situation will be but is optimistic about the results other communities have had.

“It’s something we won’t know for sure until we try it,” she said. “But there are other areas that have alternated trash and recycling pickup where this idea has worked.”

The recycling program is still in the planning stages with Crosby looking at the results of the questionnaire. The next step will be to go through those questionnaires and work to address those concerns that residents have.

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