Protect Our Environment and Controlling Climate Change
The ISWA World Congress attracted 1,200 participants this year despite the pandemic and received major coverage in the news while heating up social media channels. The Business Times Singapore published an 8-page supplement and a feature article about James Law and his views as Chair of the ISWA Landfill Group on what we, as individuals and communities, can do to protect our environment.
Featured speakers included Alex Stege and his Solid Waste Emissions Estimation Tool (SWEET) used in a project in Tyre Caza, Lebanon. SWEET allows solid waste planners to compare emissions from implementing different programs and quantify the effectiveness of available waste management options in reducing emissions of GHGs and air pollutants.
Alex presented during the Waste Management In An Era Of New Energy track. His discussion covered Evaluating the Energy Potential of 16 Landfill Gas to Energy Projects in China to be financed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC). There are 24 landfill gas-to-energy projects in China, including ten sites already under operation. In 2021, IFC hired SCS Engineers to evaluate the NCWI estimates and prepare a report providing independent LFG generation and recovery projections for the 16 landfills. The project developer (NCWI) provided IFC with waste data and LFG generation and recovery projections for 16 of their project site landfills from the report indicating a sufficient supply of recoverable LFG to support their planned facility capacities.
SCS Engineers was asked to comment to the NWRA and SWANA industry groups in their October 6 letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the proposed new EPA rule changes for GHG reporting. SCS’s deep expertise and knowledge of GHG monitoring and reporting, especially GHG rule k values, help inform the revisions and determinations for data elements under the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule. Ref. Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2019-0424.
It is wonderful to see ISWA and SWANA in leadership roles to help us meet a global challenge!
Suzanne Sturgeon is the Health and Safety (H&S) Program Manager for SCS Engineers staff working in the field. Suzanne is responsible for developing and implementing safety programs, policies, procedures, and regulations. She also manages H&S training for field staff, developing and conducting cultural-based training within SCS to promote understanding and participation while encouraging a behavior-based philosophy essential to eliminating unsafe practices and conditions.
Suzanne doesn’t stop there; she continually evolves her programs and participates in association speaking opportunities to share successful strategies throughout North America at Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) events and others. Her focus has been proactively identifying hazardous landfill and landfill gas situations and presenting unique and successful solutions she has developed for SCS. But, as the number of MRFs and Transfer Stations is expected to increase, those areas have become safety focus areas.
The industry is seeing a reduction in workplace fatalities based on the most recent U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, but there is more work to do. “Solid waste is a dangerous industry, and we collectively work to bring awareness to those most vulnerable to injury or worse,” said Sturgeon. “As an industry, we have the tools and more on-demand training to help reach more workers before problems occur to continue making our industry safer.”
As the SWANA National Safety Committee Chair, Suzanne is working hard and smart in the field, keeping up with new systems, equipment, and facilities that need her particular skills and insight to keep worker fatalities and injuries on the downward trend. Her innovative training and ability to communicate with so many saves lives.
Greg McCarron, PE, is a Vice President of SCS Engineers and the firm’s expert on Organics Management. Greg supports businesses and municipalities across the U.S. taking steps to address climate change, which many consider the most important challenge facing our planet. One popular option is reducing greenhouse gas and their environmental impacts by diverting organics from landfills, thus reducing methane production. The tactic also diverts much-needed food to food banks in some programs, but all programs produce a product good for the earth.
Greg’s 35 years of experience include operations, project management, design, permitting, regulatory support, construction oversight, system start-up, economic analysis, and technology assessment to find the right system and the proper mix for sustainable composting operations.
Among his successful innovative projects, there are award winners for demonstrating composting operations can be in urban areas, conveniently coexisting with buildings and people, even tucked under a bridge in New York City.
He created an Aerated Static Pile (ASP) composting pilot program so that municipalities and businesses could evaluate their organic waste streams to determine whether composting is a viable solution before making a capital investment.
And he is leading the design of hybrid composting approaches that combine an ASP system with other technologies, such as open windrows. These hybrid systems can achieve necessary process control while maintaining cost efficiencies. The designs depend on the priority challenges unique to each project — processing increasing tons of food scraps, for example, but change as priorities differ within programs. Sustainability means the systems are flexible enough to adapt to waste trends and the end market, which demands various high-quality mixes to sell.
Greg says, “the advancements mentioned above help support sustainable composting and organics management because they account for changes that may occur over the life of the systems, such as waste characteristics and their relation to the end-product demand.”
WASTECON 2022 will take place December 5-8, 2022, at the San Diego Convention Center. SCS Engineers will be right up front in Booth 503 with demos and our experts at hand. This year’s event is extra special as WASETCON is celebrating its 60th Anniversary!
WASTECON helps public sector solid waste leaders and their teams plan sustainable futures for their communities. The WASTECON Education Experience is specifically curated to provide leadership and management education through a solid waste lens. What you will experience is unlike any other in the industry. Examples of topics and forms are listed below:
SWANA’s Safety Summit is returning to WASTECON 2022 to provide the latest in industry health and safety information and practices. This curated series of sessions will help safety leaders better protect collection and post-collection workers while developing a stronger safety culture for all. Attendees will gain:
A premium and intentional networking experience. Staff and volunteer leaders go out of their way to deliver radical hospitality and connect attendees, speakers, solution providers, exhibitors, and sponsors. Some examples of SWANA’s commitment to creating an excellent networking experience include:
The former General Manager of the Monterey Regional Waste Management District and current Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Vice President, Tim Flanagan, is now a Project Director with SCS Engineers in Pleasanton, California. Flanagan is putting his three decades of recycling and solid waste expertise to work for the firm’s clients.
Flanagan is well known in the waste industry and continues making significant contributions in North America and globally. He’s accomplished many successful waste diversion and recycling programs and sustainable facilities. He played a key role in developing a pilot anaerobic digestion facility, which processes food waste and other organics into energy. This facility was the first in California to process organics from the municipal solid waste stream.
He is the Past Director of SWANA’s Recycling and Special Waste Technical Division and presently the Vice President of the SWANA International Board. In that capacity, he plays an integral role in developing the Association’s new strategic plan and participating in identifying, selecting, and prioritizing the plan goals and strategies. Flanagan is also a past Gold Rush Chapter president, where he spearheaded efforts to team with the California Resource Recovery Association for the very successful Zero Waste Certification training program.
Flanagan’s public sector experience started in the City of Palo Alto and with the County of Santa Clara before he moved into the private sector. He was Waste Management’s Western Region Director of Recycling overseeing a thirteen-state network of MRFs and material sales and District Manager of collection, recycling, and transfer station operations covering northern and southern California for seventeen years.
In 2015, the Monterey Regional Waste Management District (MRWMD) appointed him as General Manager following his ten years as the Assistant General Manager. During his tenure, Flanagan oversaw $50 million of facilities expansion and development in materials recovery facility recycling and composting operations, equipment maintenance, household hazardous waste, engineering, and landfill site operations. MRWMD, a leader in effective solid waste management and resource recovery, has been recognized by SWANA as one of the “Best Solid Waste Systems in North America.” In 2016, SWANA’s Sustainable Material Management division recognized Flanagan with its “Distinguished Individual Achievement” Award.
In 2021, Flanagan initiated the partnership with the Veteran’s Transition Center of Monterey County with The Last Chance Mercantile. This public/non-profit partnership that Flanagan helped create has the benefit of providing stable jobs for veterans in transition and the reuse of recovered items instead of landfilling. The store offers an extensive inventory of unique items ranging from books to boats, scrap lumber to furniture, and clothing to household treasures. It’s been selected by the Monterey County Weekly Readers Poll as the “Best Eco-Friendly Business in Monterey County” for many years.
Michelle Leonard, SCS’s senior vice president leading its sustainable materials management practice, has this to say, “Tim is a collaborator, a mentor, a motivator. He embodies the spirit of resource recovery in all he has accomplished and his industry contributions. It is our pleasure and honor to welcome him to SCS Engineers.”
SWANA is optimistic regarding the positive role modern MSW landfills can play in managing solid waste – such as carpeting and clothing – containing PFAS. By disposing of these products in landfills and effectively treating landfill leachate for PFAS removal, the solid waste industry can provide society with an effective and proven method of managing PFAS wastes.
In support of members, the SWANA Applied Research Foundation (ARF) has issued a report summarizing and analyzing management options and treatment technologies that can address PFAS chemicals contained in landfill leachate on November 10, 2021. PFAS Management and Treatment Options for Landfill Leachate is available to SWANA ARF subscribers.
The research findings presented in the resulting report are based on a comprehensive review of the literature and an analysis of the commercially-available PFAS treatment systems and other management options for landfill leachate.
The new report serves as a companion report to one published by the ARF in June 2021 on PFAS Fate and Transport in WTE Facilities, available in SWANA’s Reports List.
We could not resist sharing this picture!
SWANA’s WASTECON® helps public sector solid waste leaders and their teams plan sustainable futures for their communities. The conference is curated especially for solid waste leaders to immerse themselves in the latest executive topics.
See you there!
The International Awards Committee and Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Board of Directors unanimously voted to honor Tom Conrad, the “C” in SCS, with the Robert L. Lawrence Distinguished Service Award at WASTECON 2021 in November. The Lawrence award is the highest accolade SWANA bestows on a member of the waste management industry, reserved for those making meaningful and lasting contributions.
“I’m honored and humbled to be selected for the Robert L. Lawrence Award. I thank you and am especially thankful for what SWANA and SCS are today,” stated Tom Conrad.
SWANA recognizes Conrad for over 60 years of significant influence on the waste management and environmental services industry. Conrad, a Founder, Executive Vice President, and Director Emeritus of SCS Engineers, dedicated his career to advancing solid waste management, most notably through the founding of SCS Engineers (Stearns, Conrad, and Schmidt Consulting Engineers) more than 51 years ago.
Tom Conrad worked on a wide range of environmental engineering projects touching almost every aspect of solid waste management throughout his career. As an environmental engineering firm and consultant to the newly created US Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the founders recognized that responsible solid waste management was increasingly important for protecting the environment and the health and safety of the general public.
Leading SCS, he helped the EPA develop the first federal regulations for sanitary landfills, managing and capturing landfill gas, waste sorting protocols, sludge management, and land remediation.
Environmental services, including wastewater management, were always a significant part of SCS services and the waste industry. When new regulatory policies began expanding in the ’80s, SCS’s techniques, technology, and expertise helped a broad range of industries comply with environmental needs and continues today with the firm’s greenhouse gas, landfill technology, renewable energy, remediation, and sustainable materials management programs.
Conrad is also known for hiring and mentoring today’s SCS leaders, many of whom are SWANA leaders, by creating and fostering SCS’s culture encouraging employee participation in industry associations, community, and SCS’s mentorship and leadership programs.
Before his retirement in 2016, Conrad held professional engineering licenses in 24 states. He was a member of SWANA, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the National Waste and Recycling Association, and the Society of American Military Engineers.
He maintains his “work hard – play hard” lifestyle. He is active at SCS, participating in Board of Director meetings and speaking at the Young Professionals Group events and celebrations. While no longer mountain climbing and biking cross-country, he has a vigorous walking, swimming, and biking schedule.
The findings of the studies reviewed in this report are encouraging concerning the ability of today’s U.S. WTE facilities to effectively treat solid waste that contains PFAS and not emit detectable levels of PFOA in the process. For the formation of PICs, the pilot-scale investigation conducted at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology is encouraging in its findings that the combustion of PTFE did not create any of the 31 types of PFAS suspected of being potential PICs produced during the combustion process.
In conclusion, based on this research, SWANA is cautiously optimistic regarding the role of WTE facilities in the destruction of PFAS in MSW. The thermal destruction of PFAS in high-temperature combustion systems such as WTE facilities may represent one of the few commercially proven options available to society to destroy these problematic, forever chemicals.
The full report, PFAS Fate and Transport in Waste-to-Energy Facilities, is currently only available to SWANA ARF subscribers. SWANA members receive free access to ARF industry reports one year after publication; the abstract is available online and worth reading.
The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is hosting a virtual summit in place of SOAR this June 17th. The Landfill Challenges Summit presents sessions from 12:00 – 5:00 pm EDT and on-demand sessions throughout the conference.
The Landfill Challenges Summit brings together landfill, landfill gas, and biogas professionals throughout the United States and Canada. Industry experts, including those at SCS Engineers, will discuss current and future challenges that are expected to impact landfill operations and landfill gas production and what lessons can be applied as we move forward.
As vacant land becomes more scarce, developers are turning to former landfills, which are often large tracts in prime locations, are now use. Daniel Cooper and Somshekhar Kundral use examples demonstrating how landfills and lakefills may be reclaimed, allowing the community to realize economic benefits in previously unusable areas for development while improving environmental protection. However, redevelopment on such site poses several environmental and geotechnical challenges. The design concepts of methane gas management systems vary based on the site’s subsurface conditions, building footprint, and the perceived risk tolerance of building owners. Several gas management barriers are available in the market today and can be broadly classified into the asphaltic spray-applied liner and the HDPE liner. The use of these liner systems depends on subsurface conditions and the size of the building. SWANA CEU: .50
SWANA recently announced the winners of the SWDC competition hosted by SWANA’s Young Professionals Group. The competition aims at providing design experience to students interested in pursuing an education or career in solid waste management. The outcome is that all participants are winners, gathering real-world experience to help solve complex solid waste management issues in a supportive environment.
Seven universities participated in the competition: Arizona State University, Wayne State University, University of Southern California, University of Vermont, the University of Texas at Arlington, University of British Columbia, and the National University of Engineering in Peru.
This year’s project challenged teams to find solutions for closing the Bakoteh Dumpsite and supporting changes to modern solid waste management in Kanifing, The Gambia. The dumpsite is one of the largest disposal facilities in The Gambia and the only one in the Kanifing Municipality.
“Our team of judges was impressed with how this group of student design teams engaged in understanding this solid waste challenge plaguing The Gambia,” Competition judge and SCS Engineers Project Manager, Chris Jimieson, says. “The students developed diverse designs that we believe will become part of the eventual solution of constructing The Gambia’s first engineered, sanitary landfill.”
The judging panel included John Welch, Director of the Dane County Department of Waste & Renewables; Kaba Bah, Principal Manager at the Midwest GOOH Group in Madison, WI; Lamin Sanyang, Director of Services at Kanifing Municipal Council in The Gambia; and our own Chris Jimieson. The judges have a long association with the Bakoteh Dumpsite.
The SWANA Awards Ceremony features two guest speakers, including David Biderman, CEO and Executive Director of SWANA, and Mayor Talib Ahmed Bensouda, Lord Mayor of the Kanifing Municipality, The Gambia. Mayor Bensouda explains in the video how the Bakoteh Dumpsite became a significant problem for the growing community and the solutions they are using to fix it.
Chris Jimieson provides us with an update from his travels to The Gambia in Africa to evaluate their solid waste challenges.
Many of you attended my presentation at the office in July 2019 following the Mayor’s visit. I have continued to stay in touch with our contacts in Kanifing, The Gambia. In February 2020, we presented the project at WIRMC to solid waste professionals across Wisconsin. During the pandemic, Lindsey Carlson and I participated in a series of weekend phone calls to stay engaged in understanding their solid waste challenges.
In October 2020, I presented The Gambia situation as a design project to college students worldwide that wanted to compete in the SWANA YP’s International Solid Waste Design Competition. We asked them to provide a closure plan for the Bakoteh Dumpsite, provide a conceptual design for a new sanitary landfill, and share some cost estimates for each of these endeavors. Seven teams from across the Americas decided to compete. If you are interested, please browse through student design posters, reports, and presentations or contact me, Chris Jimieson.
Thanks to the SWANA YPs, my SCS colleagues, and so many who volunteered to help elevate this project to the international stage.