Collecting and Handling Municipal Solid Waste
Course Learning Outcomes for Unit II
Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
- Assess the fundamental science and engineering principles of solid waste management.
- Relate leadership and management principles to effective solid waste management.
Chapter 3: Collection
There are four broad kinds of wastes that make up municipal wastes: municipal solid waste from residences, commercial business locations, government institutions and industry; yard wastes; recyclables that are processed to reenter commerce with a renewed purpose and function; and construction debris. All of these categories are non-hazardous wastes approved for handling, processing, and disposal in municipal landfills. When it comes to hazardous wastes from commercial businesses (e.g., spent solvent and process streams) and from households (polychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs] in florescent fixture ballasts, oils, paints, mercury, lead acid batteries, radioactive material, etc.), these must be separated out of municipal wastes to protect transporters, workers handling and processing municipal wastes, and the microbial populations that exist in municipal landfills tasked to convert organics to carbon dioxide and methane.
The management of municipal solid waste begins with the collection of waste at the locations where these wastes are generated. When a municipality sends out bids for selecting and purchasing garbage trucks, there are many options in that marketplace to consider. For residential collections, trucks that are automated, semi- automated, or rear-loading work well. The choice will depend on the type of collection containers used and the number of employees working on each truck. If the containers are uniform in size and placed on the street, an automated truck with a single driver will be able to complete the collection; whereas, semi- automatic trucks require workers to bring the containers to a hoist located on the side of the truck. The third option involves rear-loading trucks that are manually operated. In some smaller communities, garbage trucks are divided to include recycling and refuse. When it comes to collecting waste from commercial locations, front loading trucks that have the capability to pick up bins with a set of front-end forks are mostly used. For larger commercial operations, roll-off compactors are the prime means for collecting non-hazardous wastes.
Between the point that waste is collected and its disposal at the municipal landfill, there are some operations
that can be used to help segregate and stabilize the different classes of waste. There are compost piles that
are operated to stabilize materials high in organic content such as yard and food wastes. Compost piles
operate aerobically, and the microbes rapidly degrade the wastes to generate a mix that can serve as a soil
conditioner or as fill at the municipal landfill. What the compost pile is able to accomplish in one year can take
a landfill from 10 to 30 years to provide the same level of stabilization. A second option is to use a facility
known as a transfer station. These operations have many purposes: to compile waste collections into larger quantities for long-distance shipment to a landfill disposal sites, to pull out recyclable and hazardous materials that should not go into municipal landfills, to provide a hazardous waste drop-off point for citizens or to drop off wastes that need to be processed prior to going to the landfill, and to hold wastes in a safe location if the final disposal site cannot be accessed for reasons such as adverse weather.
In large municipalities, waste transfer stations are a normal part of the municipal solid waste management
plan for a community (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 1999). These facilities are often
designed and operated to recover metals, paper, and plastics. Materials that are pulled out at the transfer
station are consolidated and shipped to a materials recovery facility that further segregates out different
MEE 5901, Advanced Solid Waste Management 1
categories of materials. The higher the level of the sort, the higher the price that UNIT is paid x STUDY to the GUIDE recovery facility by the downstream customer taking in the sort as raw material to its operations. Transfer stations are able to remove hazardous materials that are identified in the waste collection. All this recovery results in a reduced quantity of material going into the landfill, which extends the life of the municipal landfill before it must be capped and closed.
Transfer facilities bring flexibilities to local communities by being a buffer between the generator of the waste and its final disposition. After the local landfill is filled and closed, the transfer facility is able to repurpose itself to facilitate the shipment of wastes to other landfills throughout the state or country. It is not uncommon for communities to put waste into rail cars and send these to a neighboring state while the local government works out a long-term solution. Looking at the economics of transport, it generally costs about $0.43/mile (United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2002) for each ton of waste that is shipped to a distant site when the trip is made by the local garbage truck. On top of this is the added salary of the workers making the trip with the truck and the increased cost of maintenance and depreciation of these trucks. However, if the waste is consolidated into large long-haul vehicles, the cost is reduced to $0.14/ mile (EPA, 2002) for each ton of waste hauled to a distant location using one driver for the trip.
In 1991, regulators responsible for permitting landfills began to mandate that federal criteria be used in the design and assessment of new landfill facilities (EPA, 2002). Municipalities that had previously operated older landfills found the costs of bringing a new landfill facility online to be exorbitant. By aligning with other local communities, it is generally very attractive to develop and permit a regional facility. Not only does this spread out the costs among many parties, but it also reduced the number of employees on the city payrolls. Regional landfills can also become profit centers by selling disposal capacity to rural communities and to municipalities unable to have their own local landfill. Regional facilities also help municipalities to attract new businesses and investments into the community. Having an adequate and well-functioning infrastructure is one of the key decision criteria that corporations use when selecting a community for their headquarters or manufacturing/distribution facilities.
Many citizens operate by the out of sight, out of mind principle meaning that if they cannot see it, they do not think about it, and few give any thought to how waste is collected, processed, and disposed. However, when cities begin to construct and operate transfer stations, many of these same citizens begin to operate by the not in my back yard (NIMBY) principle, which means that they oppose the construction because it is close to them. Due to the fact that many transfer stations were being located in high-density, low-income areas, over the years the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received many complaints due to noise, odors, litter, and the large volume of heavy trucks passing through their neighborhoods. The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) was formed in 1993 to provide the EPA with an independent voice related to the matters of environmental justice raised by affected citizens. The NEJAC provides the EPA with social, political, and geographical recommendations that addressed these complaints and provided the EPA with a basis for publishing criteria to be considered when designing and operating these facilities.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (1999). Municipal solid waste landfills, volume 1: Summary
of the requirements for the new source performance standards and emission guidelines for municipal solid waste landfills . Retrieved from https://www3.epa.gov/airtoxics/landfill/lf-vol1.pdf
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2002). Waste transfer stations: A manual for decision- making. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-
MEE 5901, Advanced Solid Waste Management
Learning Activities (Nongraded)
Practice the skills learned in this unit by answering the following questions:
UNIT x STUDY GUIDE
- The landfill of a local municipality is filling to capacity, and the city is looking for ways to extend the life of the facility until a new landfill can be constructed and permitted. The city has hired you to look at two options to cover the transition period: (a) construct a transfer station with the idea of shipping the waste out of state, or (b) construct a mixed –waste-materials recovery facility and continue using the local landfill. In a table, do a side-by-side comparison of the facilities and then analyze these differences to make a recommendation to the city council as to which option you are recommending. Explain the criteria and rationale that you used to come to your recommendation.
- Not all wastes can be recycled or reused, especially when there are no post-consumer markets. Describe the ways that municipalities are seeking to implement a Zero Waste program. Describe three challenges when these programs are implemented, and propose a solution for each.
- A community is experiencing a serious litter problem from local citizens. The city council has hired your firm to propose a program to be implemented. Design a community program that addresses the causes and reasons for the litter problem. Show how the program will incorporate citizen education and awareness. How will the program hold citizens accountable when they continue to litter after the program is launched?
- Define the key elements that go into designing a refuse collection route. Which of the elements accounts for the most time in the collection of residential trash? What is your proposal to bring more efficiency into the design of the collection route?
Nongraded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You do not have to submit them. If you have questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information.
MEE 5901, Advanced Solid Waste Management
Type of service: Academic Paper Writing
Type Of Assignment: Coursework
Subject: Environmental Science
Number of Sources:
Academic level: Master’s
Paper format: APA
Line Spacing: Double
Language Style: US English