Trans-Jordan updates include future landfills, NUERA research projects, recycling goals
An aerial view of the Bayview Landfill, where four landfills in Utah will start taking their solid waste once the lifespan of their landfills are up. (Trans-Jordan)
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By Mandy Ditto | email@example.com
A weekly garbage curbside pickup is a given for most residents of the Salt Lake valley. However, having a place for that garbage to go every week after pickup is much more complicated than rolling a can down the driveway.
Trans-Jordan Cities Landfill services Draper, Midvale, Murray, Riverton, Sandy, South Jordan and West Jordan and is currently in the last part of its lifespan, which means there are 10-15 more years expected before it is full. Because of this, Trans-Jordan took action and worked with other landfills that are part of the Northern Utah Environmental Resource Agency (NUERA) to come up with a solution.
NUERA & Bayview Landfill
NUERA is a collaborative group of six landfills ranging from Logan to Southern Utah, that came together to solve issues, come up with new ideas and work on projects together.
“The idea is that we meet together, we talk about things, we have an operations team that talks about specific operations processes, and it’s just a way of using our combined knowledge together to make the whole system better for the public,” said Trans-Jordan’s and NUERA’s Board Vice Chairman David Newton. “The second part of that is that we can work together on projects if they come up that one or more of the landfills want to involve themselves with — they can do so on a voluntary basis — again in an effort to make things better as far as our waste needs.”
Four of the landfills that are part of NUERA came together to purchase an interest in the Bayview Landfill, which is located in the southwest part of Utah County and is currently operating. The Bayview Landfill will save money and time with its proximity and pricing for these landfills to take their garbage, compared to others where prices are higher, or are much further.
“You could say that we’re in charge of identifying the long-term picture, it’s sort of a puzzle, and this is a big piece of the puzzle that was put into place, because it gives our residents the surety that they have the best value location for their waste to go for the next 100 years,” said Trans-Jordan Executive Director Mark Hooyer. “Value to us means the lowest cost to our residents, as far as the fees and taxes they pay to have their waste picked up.”
Expanding landfill research
Something else that NUERA is starting to look into — specifically initiated and headed by Hooyer — is having their landfills used to help conduct research, specifically by local university students.
“One of my goals is to help the Wasatch Front stand out nationally as an area of solid waste practice and research,” Hooyer said. “There are a lot of areas to study with landfills, what we have going on.”
NUERA collectively has five active landfills to offer for research: one brand new one, one in young age, two in early-old age, and one readying for final closure, Hooyer said. There are also two closed landfills that could be used, as well as other diverse stations and plants that could be used for extensive research.
“We want to stand out, we want to be recognized as a center of excellence, we’ve identified some funding sources where the money might likely come from,” which include the universities themselves, outside organizations that want to be involved with the research and NUERA members who are interested and engaged in any research, Hooyer said.
Just a few of the research projects that could be conducted at the landfills include: solid waste landfilling, ground water protection, landfill gas production, compost science, energy projects, economics and financial analysis of operations, recycling and reuse of materials and more.
“With NUERA, we’re more community-focused as far as we’re reaching out to the states saying we want to bolster the universities, we want to work together so we can improve the education in the state, make Utah shine as the center of excellence when it comes to solid waste research,” Hooyer said.
Reducing recycling contamination rates
Bringing down the recycling contamination rates is another serious goal of Trans-Jordan — and NUERA. Contamination takes place when recyclables aren’t cleaned properly before being put into curbside recycling bins. This means that those recyclables — along with non-recyclables put into recycling bins — have to be taken to landfills. It is not within the means of waste disposal companies to meticulously clean and sort all recyclables picked up, so it’s either recyclable with their equipment, or it isn’t.
Trans-Jordan is working on an initiative with all serviced cities so that fewer recyclables will have to be taken to landfills by educating everyone the same way on what can and cannot be recycled.
“We’re so big on pushing for recycling because we’ve got to save our landfill space, we’ve got to save the resources,” said Lesha Earl, Trans-Jordan’s education coordinator. “We’re pulling all of our member cities together to get all of the cities on the same page with recycling so they all say the same guidelines, there’s no confusion on what can be recycled, what can’t be recycled.” Earl will be the one to head the recycling initiative for Trans-Jordan.
One example of recycling contamination is plastic grocery bags, Newton said. The bags are not recyclable and can be harmful not only to the environment but also can harm the recycling equipment where pickups are taken. Two solutions for the bags can be either returning them to bins inside grocery stores to be reused eventually, or to use them as garbage sacks to go to the landfill. Glass is recyclable, but not in curbside bins; it should be taken to glass recycling pickup stations.
Trans-Jordan does not recycle glass, but does provide such services as taking care of household hazardous waste, creating compost from green waste and offering dumpster roll-out services to residents of affiliated cities.