There are 2,000 active landfills that hold a bulk of the 258 million tons of municipal solid waste generated in the United States each year.
These numbers, provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, highlight a worrisome nationwide trend -- space for trash has an expiration date and time is running out.
Daviess County is also experiencing this trend, particularly in terms of its C&D (construction and demolition) residual landfill. The 30-acre C&D landfill, which is used specifically for the disposal of metals, bricks, plastics, glass, building components, asphalt, concrete, gypsum and earthen materials, is quickly approaching the 21-acre mark, forcing Daviess Fiscal Court to open up the remaining nine acres. But those acres will last for just 10 to 15 years, said David Smith, Daviess County director of legislative services and ABC coordinator.
"We have started to fill up the area that we have just expanded," he said. "This is the last area of the landfill to be permitted. We have a permit to expand to this area and no further. We are one of the few organizations in the state that has a contained (fill area) and a residual (fill area).
An issue with C&D spaces is that they are, by virtue of the materials they contain, a specialized fill area that can only take up a certain space. A perk, especially for those consistently dumping C&D approved materials, is that the cost per ton is $19.50 compared to $25.50 for municipal solid waste.
More than 70,000 tons a year have come into the residual fill area for the past three years and the rise in materials coming into the C&D area can be attributed to two factors, Smith said.
"One is the different weather events in recent years," he said. "Between winds, tornadoes and hail, and wind storms, we have had an incredible amount of roofing materials, especially from shingles. The second factor is that Henderson closed their fill, so we are taking in paper sludge from International Paper. It didn't increase the intake a whole lot, but ... it did make us fill it up sooner."
After the additional space is properly retrofitted to meet state and federal requirements and the county meets the control and quality assurance guidelines through its $40,000 contract with third-party assessor Weaver Consultants, the county will have to decide whether to open up another C&D facility within the 700 acres that make up the Daviess County Landfill or discontinue C&D services. Ending the C&D service would mean that these materials would be treated the same as any other municipal waste in the contained landfill.
Either way, planning for a landfill is a long term project that spans decades from conception to closure, he said.
"They are estimating 35 to 40 years left on the contained landfill," he said. "Regarding the contained and C&D, we have 700 acres of land. To a degree, it requires decades of planning. When we bought land that we currently use for land farming, the big reason we purchased it is for 40 to 50 years from now so we can create a contained landfill down the road. You have to take advantage of the topography, so we have that area we can look into and expand to.
"What we need to do is come back in the next few years and decide if we create another C&D and if so, where are we going to put it at our site. We may get 10 more years. Let's just hope the next one lasts longer."
Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, email@example.com