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Summit County Landfill At Three Mile Tries To Put A Lid On Waste Stream


Summit County’s Landfill Superintendent Tim Loveday told KPCW this week  that the Three Mile Canyon dump is going through changes and challenges—for example, a 25 percent increase in their waste stream.  

We asked Loveday what impacts the landfill saw from the Covid pandemic.

Although the virus put a damper on encouraging the use of reusable bags, rather than plastic, Loveday said that isn’t a major problem for the landfill.     

“We’re not really seeing more plastic per se.  But plastic bags for groceries and Wal Mart and everything, that actually occupies a very small percentage of our waste stream.  But, because people are staying home and they’re fixing their meals at home more, that type thing now, and they’re stay-cating rather than going overseas on vacation, that kind of thing, our waste stream is actually up 25 percent year to date right now, which is a significant impact on us.  At the same time that our waste stream’s up, our personnel are down 20 percent because we’re in a hiring-freeze situation right now.  And so we’re doing everything we can to operate with the team we’ve got rather than fill some positions.”

He said some trends on recycling are a problem.       

“We’re seeing a lot more cardboard coming into the landfill.  That’s a big disappointment.  The recycle tonnage is 25 percent up, just like the garbage is, but our actual recycle rate is down to 17 percent on curbside right now, which we’re not happy with.  So we really ask the public to, when you’re looking at your curbside container, put everything in there that you can.”

Loveday said they’re making staff decisions in the midst of the county’s hiring freeze.      

“We have people leave now that are critical positions within the county.  We are replacing those.  But our division made the decision to move forward into the next fiscal year.  Those positions are still held open, and eventually we will fill those.  But we felt like going into this year, and with the risk associated with bringing more people in, that we really just needed to go on with the team we had.”

At Three Mile, he said they’ve been operating at their new cell since July of last year, but haven’t closed their old cell.         

“The big challenge that we were anticipating was leechate management, cause we don’t have a sewer line out there or anything.   We’ve got to manage that internally. So we built an evaporation pond, put an evaporation system in.  That has worked incredibly well.  On any given day, we can evaporate about 2500 gallons of leechate a day.  And we managed a little over a million gallons this past year.  On those days when we’re taking in more leechate than we can evaporate, we’re pumping that back up onto the waste, and we’re reintroducing it into the landfill.  And that’s a good thing, cause that keeps our landfill wet, makes things degrade faster, and degrading faster, you reach environmental stability much quicker, and it provides more air space in the landfill.”

In all, the Three Mile location has the capacity for six cells—about a 40-year life.   Loveday said they will start their next cell in about five years.

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