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American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry. SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT. Presented By: Robert B. Gardner, PE, BCEE SCS Engineers (San Francisco Presentation) Bruce J. Clark, PE, BCEE SCS Engineers (Atlanta Presentation). Prepared By: Vincent Martinez VITAL Consulting Group.

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Solid waste management

American Bar Association

Forum on the Construction Industry


Presented By:

Robert B. Gardner, PE, BCEESCS Engineers (San Francisco Presentation)

Bruce J. Clark, PE, BCEESCS Engineers(Atlanta Presentation)

Prepared By:

Vincent Martinez

VITAL Consulting Group

Solid waste management involves
Solid Waste Management Involves:

  • Collection

  • Processing

  • Recovery

  • Disposal

Solid waste regulation
Solid Waste Regulation

  • 1965 Solid Waste Disposal Act

  • 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

Waste management hierarchy u s epa
Waste Management Hierarchy(U.S. EPA)

Most Preferred

Source Reduction


Recycling and Composting

Least Preferred

Resource Recovery



Solid waste characterization
Solid Waste Characterization

  • In 2010

    • 250 million tons of waste was generated in the U.S. (approximately 4-1/2 pounds of waste generated daily per person)

    • 88 million tons of waste was recycled or composted

    • Approximately 29 millions tons of solid waste was combusted for energy recovery.

Solid waste collection and transfer
Solid Waste Collection and Transfer

Residential Collection:

Primarily single family residential properties

  • Commercial Collection:

  • Businesses

  • Multifamily Complexes

  • Industrial Facilities

  • Schools

  • Government Complexes

  • Hospitals

  • Construction Sites

Solid waste collection and transfer1
Solid Waste Collection and Transfer

Transfer Stations:

Collection trucks transfer their loads to large trailers to reduce the distance and number of vehicles to the disposal facility.

Material Recovery :

Manual and mechanized sorting and packaging of recyclable materials (i.e., glass, plastic, paper, metals)

Solid waste management approaches
Solid Waste Management Approaches

Solid Waste Management Plans:

The general purpose of solid waste plans is to achieve environmentally sound management and disposal of solid and hazardous waste, resource conservation, and maximum utilization of valuable resources

Solid waste management approaches1
Solid Waste Management Approaches


Some communities have implemented programs rewarding residents for recycling.

A few communities, mostly California, provide curbside collection of separated organics – i.e. food waste.

  • Residential:

  • Recyclables include:

  • glass bottles

  • plastic bottles

  • aluminum cans/foil

  • tin and bimetal cans

  • newspaper

  • cardboard

  • paper

Solid waste management approaches2
Solid Waste Management Approaches


  • Commercial and Institutional come from:

  • Businesses and offices

  • Shopping centers

  • Government buildings

  • Schools & colleges

  • Hospitals

  • Retirement homes

  • Restaurants

  • Other sources

Solid waste management approaches3
Solid Waste Management Approaches


  • Industrial: Industrial sources typically generate recyclables such as:

  • Beverage bottles and cans

  • Corrugated cardboard

  • Paper from office areas and break rooms

  • Many industrial processes reuse scraps or surpluses as part of their operations.

Solid waste management approaches4
Solid Waste Management Approaches


  • E-Waste:

  • E-waste is growing rapidly; Technical obsolescence and lower production costs

  • Computer monitors and older television picture tubes contain an average of 4 pounds of lead that needs to be disposed of.

  • Besides lead, E-waste can contain: Six other heavy metals

  • Flameretardants

Solid waste management approaches5
Solid Waste Management Approaches


  • Separate Organics Management (SOM):

  • Gaining interest in the U.S.

  • Organic diversion involves segregating and collecting organic waste found in the MSW stream and processing the waste for beneficial use.

  • Target streams include:

  • Yard waste

  • Food waste from schools and restaurants

  • Source separated organics from homes.

Waste to energy and conversion technology
Waste to Energy and Conversion Technology

  • Thermal (combustion-based)

  • Mass Burn

  • Modular Combustion

  • Refuse-Derived Fuel (RDF)

  • Fluidized Bed

Waste to energy and conversion technology1
Waste to Energy and Conversion Technology

  • Byproducts of the Combustion Process:

  • Fly Ash: Consists of various contaminants picked up and removed from the combustion gases

  • Bottom Ash: The non-combusted waste residue that consists of metals, glass, and other nonorganic materials.

Waste to energy and conversion technology2
Waste to Energy and Conversion Technology

Mass Burn:

  • Nearly 100 mass burn facilities in the U.S.

  • Waste is combusted through heat and agitation

  • Waste byproducts include fly ash and bottom ash

  • Metal recovery.

  • Produce electric power, heat and hot water

  • Plant Capacity typically > 500 tons per day (TPD) to more than 3,000 TPD

Waste to energy and conversion technology3
Waste to Energy and Conversion Technology

Emerging Waste Conversion Technologies:

Simplified Classification


- Anaerobic Digestion

  • Thermo-Chemical

  • Gasification

  • Pyrolysis


- Fermentation of syngas

  • Emerging waste technologies seek to maximize conversion of waste materials into energy and useful products with reduced air emission, and less unused by-products.

Waste to energy and conversion technology4
Waste to Energy and Conversion Technology

Emerging Waste Conversion Technologies:

  • Integrated :

  • The process starts with gasifying an organic feedstock, then uses various fermenting enzymes or catalyst substrates to produce ethanol.

  • This process is amenable to breaking down plant-based cellulose materials such as agricultural residue, forest material, and waste paper.

  • First commercial waste (biomass) to ethanol plant in FL 2012

Waste to energy and conversion technology5
Waste to Energy and Conversion Technology

Emerging Waste Conversion Technologies:

  • Thermo-chemical (Gasification):

  • Is the process that uses heat, pressure, and steam with small amounts of air to convert organic materials into syngas.

  • The syngas is then either combusted to provide power or converted into other energy products.

  • Some by-products may be generated ; char (a coal-like high carbon material).

Waste to energy and conversion technology6
Waste to Energy and Conversion Technology

Emerging Waste Conversion Technologies:

  • Bio-Chemical (Anaerobic Digestion):

  • Is a biological process that breaks down organic material in the absence of oxygen and produces biogas and residual solids as by-products.

  • The biogas is composed of methane and carbon dioxide and is typically combusted for power. Feedstock preferably source-separated organic waste.

  • First commercial unit Univ. of Wisconsin 2011.


  • Regulated by Federal, State and Local authorities.

  • Federal regulatory standards include:

  • Location Restrictions

  • Composite Liner Requirements

  • Leachate Collection and Removal Systems

  • Operating Practices

  • Groundwater Monitoring Requirements

  • Closure and Post-closure Care Requirements

  • Corrective Action Provisions

  • Financial Assurance Provisions


Site Selection / Siting:

  • Siting a new landfill is a complex, costly and controversial endeavor that involves detailed environmental investigations, engineering design, regulatory review and public involvement.

  • State & Federal regulations and local zoning rules provide the basic requirements for siting a new landfill, including prohibitions or constraints, geologic conditions, and setbacks (environmental and airports, etc.



  • MSW landfills typically require local, state and federal approvals for permitting.

  • States have the authority to regulate and permit MSW facilities. State permits required include construction and operations permits.

  • Federal approvals are sometimes required for wetlands, air traffic and air quality permitting.

  • Local permits include land-use zoning, conditional use permits, site development and building permits.


Environmental Controls and Design Considerations

  • Bottom liners

  • Leachate collection & treatment systems

  • Daily, intermediate & finalcover systems

  • Storm drainage controls

  • Landfill gas control & utilization


Environmental Controls and Design Considerations

  • Environmental controls:

  • Bottom liners- Federal standard requires composite bottom liners and a leachate collection system to collect leachate.

  • Leachate collection & treatment systems - The purpose of a leachate collection system is to collect and convey leachate off the bottom liner so liquids do not build up, and provide suitable treatment for discharge.

Composite liner
Composite Liner

filter fabric or graded





drainage and protective layer (1 to 2 feet)




clay, thickness varies(typical thickness, 2 feet




Double liner
Double Liner







drainage and load layer

secondary leak detection

optional clay

or geo-composite



collection pipes


Environmental Controls and Design Considerations

  • Environmental controls:

  • Daily, intermediate & final cover systems: The purpose of the cover system is to minimize infiltration and erosion, the cover must also be designed to support the intended end use.

  • Storm drainage controls: Landfills required to provide storm water run-on and run off controls through engineered storm water management systems.


Environmental Controls and Design Considerations

  • Environmental controls:

  • Landfill Gas Control:

  • Landfill gas contains methane, carbon dioxide and trace compounds.

  • Active and passive control systems.

  • Landfill gases used for beneficial purposes as fuel or for electricity generation.


Landfill Operations

  • Scalehouse

  • Active Disposal Areas

  • Odor Control

  • Waste Placement & Compaction

  • Cover Placement

  • Litter Control


Landfill Operations

  • Personnel:

  • Landfill Manager

  • Landfill Supervisor

  • Equipment Operators & Mechanics

  • Scalehouse Operators

  • Environmental Compliance

  • Spotters

  • Equipment:

  • Landfill Compactors

  • Bulldozers

  • Dump Trucks

  • Track Hoes

  • Scrapers

  • Water & Fuel Trucks



Post-closure Care

Landfills required to have written closure plans that describe the steps to close the landfill with the required cover and other closure design requirements.

  • Post-closure care period is the time after the official closure that an owner or operator must maintain and monitor the closed facility.

  • Minimum care period – 30 yrs.


Financial Assurances

  • Options:

  • Trust Fund

  • Surety Payment

  • Performance bonds

  • Letter of Credit

  • Insurance

  • Corporate Financial Test

  • Local Gov’t Financial Test

  • Corporate Guarantee

  • Local Gov’t. Guarantee

  • State-Approved Mechanism

  • State Assumption of Responsibility

Objective of assurances is to guarantee the funds necessary to meet the costs of closure, postclosure care and corrective action when needed.

Top 5 litigious topics
“Top 5” Litigious Topics

  • Facility Siting & Permitting

  • Waste Flow Control

  • Personal Injury

  • Environmental Impacts (i.e, odors, groundwater pollution, etc.)

  • Facility Construction-related claim

Flow control
Flow Control

  • Flow control is a regulatory tool used by local governments to require all solid waste be directed to a specific disposal facility.

  • Often necessary for the development of large municipal waste disposal facilities

  • Various flow control ordinances have been challenged in the Supreme Court;

    • United Haulers Association v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority and,

    • C&A Carbone, Inc. v. Town of Clarkstown, 511 U.S. 383 (1994),