waste characterization

Getting The Most Value From Waste Characterization Data For Program Planning And Design

October 28, 2021

FREE LIVE WEBINAR & Q/A

We hope you can join SCS Engineers and our guest speakers for the October 28 SCS Client Webinar on Waste Characterization. We’ll start at 2:00 pm ET. This educational, non-commercial webinar with a Q&A forum throughout is free and open to all who want to learn more about waste characterization to support waste management operations. We recommend this month’s discussion for solid waste operators and facility supervisors, landfill owners, environmental engineers, agency personnel, and those interested in reuse, recycling, and contamination challenges.

To effectively design and monitor a solid waste program, it’s necessary to assess disposal practices and understand the content of the waste stream. Waste characterization studies supply this necessary information. Data gathered during waste sampling can present a complete picture of disposal, which is useful for:

  • Analyses of the efficacy of current waste diversion programs,
  • Identifying new diversion opportunities or identifying trends from conditions such as COVID-19,
  • Determining the mix of recyclables collected in designated recycling programs and contamination rates,
  • Identifying the potential for waste–to–energy and reuse projects using selected waste streams.

Register Here

 

Not just for landfills anymore, these studies are helping Material Recovery Facilities, collection programs for food recovery, organics management, and composting work more efficiently. Together our panel will discuss how states, municipalities, and regions are experiencing some surprising results and how they get the most out of every study.

This SCS panel includes guest speakers to provide a fuller perspective on how states and municipalities use the data to accomplish their solid waste management goals.

Tim Flanagan, General Manager of the MRWMD, manages a large team of professional, technical, and operations personnel who embody their mission of turning waste into resources joins us. He was also the Western Region Director of Recycling for Waste Management, overseeing its 13 states network of MRFs and material sales.

Casey Lamensky has been with the DNR’s waste and materials management program since 2013. As the Solid Waste Coordinator, she works with initiatives to divert waste from landfill disposal and regulations for alternative management facilities such as composting, woodburning, household recyclables processing, and demolition waste recycling operations.

Meet Stacey Demers, a LEED® Accredited Professional and SCS’s National Expert on solid waste composition studies, with Betsy Powers, PE, SCS’s Civil and Environmental Engineer, supporting the recent study published by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

SCS’s format allows you to ask questions throughout the event and ask them anonymously if you prefer. A Certificate of Attendance is available on request. We realize October is extraordinarily busy this year, so we’ll send you the recording if you register but cannot attend.

SCS respects your privacy; you will only receive an event confirmation & reminder from us.

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 2:00 pm

What’s in your landfill? What it’s costing you may not be sustainable.

September 27, 2021

Waste characterization studies help businesses, government planners, haulers, and recyclers understand what’s in their waste streams, a first step in devising ways to reduce waste and cut disposal costs.

 

Recently the state of Wisconsin released its updated 2020-2021 statewide waste characterization study. The study found that the broad organics category, including yard waste and diapers, accounted for about 1.3 million tons. An estimated 924,900 tons of paper, including cardboard, compostable and office paper, comprised about 21 percent of the landfills’ tonnage. That was followed by plastic at about 17 percent or 745,600 tons.

You can read the study, but why do local governments, states, and waste management businesses request these studies? Because waste and landfills are expensive to manage. Diverting waste from landfills cuts greenhouse gases and supplies materials for reuse as new products or compost – a more sustainable system.

Waste characterization information is designed for solid waste planning; however, anyone interested in the characteristics of the solid waste stream may find it useful. Studies can also target specific waste or needs such as construction and demolition waste and business waste generators. A generator means a person, specific location, or business that creates waste.

These studies help start answering questions such as:

  • How much wasted food could be diverted for consumption or organics management?
  • How is COVID impacting recycling and recycled material feedstocks?
  • Which business groups dispose or recycle the most tons, and what materials make up those tons?
  • What is the commercial sector’s overall waste composition for disposal and diversion streams?
  • What are the detailed compositions for different groups or generators?
  • How much building debris is mixed in, and what kind of impact does it have?

States, jurisdictions, citizens, and businesses can use this information as a planning tool to help meet state mandates and their goals to reduce waste and achieve the benefits of sustainable practices. Kudos to Wisconsin, Iowa, and California, several of the many states moving toward more circular waste management!

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

Wisconsin Integrated Resource Management Conference Goes Virtual in February 2021

February 22, 2021

The Wisconsin Integrated Resource Management Conference (WIRMC) is the place to market your business to Wisconsin solid waste and recycling professionals.  WIRMC 2021 will take place as a virtual conference from February 22-25, 2021.  Several SCS professionals will be presenter, and SCS Engineers is a Gold Level sponsor of this important event.  Please stop by our Virtual booth!

Featured Hot Topics and Speakers include:

 

2020 Wisconsin Statewide Waste Characterization Study (Monday, Feb 22)
Speaker: Casey Lamensky, WDNR and Betsy Powers, SCS Engineers

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has sponsored statewide waste sorts in 2002, 2009, and 2020. The 2020 study is being performed in October through December 2020 by SCS Engineers. This presentation will hit on the highlights of the project (participating facilities and methodology), share challenges and how they were addressed, and present some preliminary results and how the DNR hopes to use the information. We will discuss patterns that are standing out and lessons that can be shared.

School Sustainability Programs: Thriving in Changing Times – Panel (Tuesday, Feb 23)

Panelists include: Angeline Koch, Milwaukee Public Schools, Claire Oleksiak, Sustain Dane, Chris Jimieson, Madison Metropolitan School District, Janet Whited, Recycling Specialist, San Diego USD, moderator Debbi Dodson, Carton Council

Landfill Technology Innovations: YPs Improving Operations and Management (Tuesday, Feb 23)
Speakers: David Hostetter, Joy Stephens, Melissa Russo, and Sam Rice all of SCS Engineers

The technologies for operating and monitoring landfills are expanding and changing rapidly.  Hear from several SCS Young Professionals about the exciting developments currently underway.

Food Recycling and Rescue – A Major City’s Three-Pronged Approach (Wednesday, Feb 22)
Speaker: Michelle Leonard, Vice President, SCS Engineers

Los Angeles County’s unincorporated area is home to almost 1 million people, and each year its communities dispose of approximately 128,000 tons of food. At the same time, approximately 1 in 7 individuals are food insecure, lacking regular access to quality nutritious meals. In the last three years, Los Angeles County Public Works has launched a number of programs to reduce wasted food. These include in-house recycling, food scraps collection, and edible food recovery. These programs have saved millions of pounds of food from going to waste. We will provide attendees with detailed information on food recycling and donation. Details will include how the programs were envisioned, the planning process undertaken by the County, the program results, and the County’s next steps, and will provide suggestions for how other communities can implement a successful food recycling and donation program.

Changing Air Rules for Landfills (Thursday, Feb 25)
Speaker: Mark Hammers, SCS Engineers

On March 26, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) finalized amendments to the 2003 National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills. The NESHAP rules affect air permits and landfill gas system operating requirements for most active landfills. Some of the changes, like revised wellhead operational standards, may be welcomed by permittees. Other changes include additional monitoring requirements for wells operating at higher temperatures, and correction and clarification of Startup, Shutdown, and Malfunction (SSM) requirements. State agencies with air permitting authority are now incorporating the new NESHAP requirements into Title V permits. The interaction between the recently amended NESHAP rules and existing New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) rules (Subpart WWW and Subpart XXX) is creating some unique challenges. Learn about these unique challenges along with the history, applicability, timelines, and primary requirements of the revised NESHAP.

 

Click for more information and to register

 

 

Posted by Laura Dorn at 12:00 pm

Why is SCS Engineers dumpster diving in Wisconsin?

October 22, 2020

SCS Engineers, in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources – WDNR, is performing a waste sort to determine what’s in the trash going into Wisconsin’s landfills. During the waste audit, SCS will collect at least 200 samples of waste from 12 waste disposal sites across the state for eight weeks.

It’s a dirty job but yields information for economic analysis.

Solid waste, recycling, and diversion planners need to differentiate between the composition and sources of waste to appropriately manage recycling and diversion programs. These programs help citizens and businesses make the most out of their waste material and help control the cost of waste management.

Why not just landfill it?

Waste diversion can positively impact communities’ environmental health, reduce the potential for soil and water contamination, and conserve resources while reducing landfill operation costs. Municipal solid waste, called MSW, typically contains valuable materials. The cost of manufacturing using virgin materials increases, but technology creates new avenues for reusing materials formerly thrown away. The pandemic has influenced what we are consuming and where we dispose of wastes, from home or the office, influencing materials markets.

How is the data used?

WDNR uses the waste audit data to evaluate current waste diversion programs’ effectiveness to identify and quantify additional materials that Wisconsin could divert from its landfills and serve as a baseline to measure future efforts. By comparing the new data to a previous waste composition study, WDNR can measure the impact of existing recycling and hazardous waste management programs. The comparison further helps identify waste generation trends and how the waste stream is changing.

The waste characterization study separately analyzes the waste stream generated from various sources, including residential, industrial/commercial/institutional, construction & demolition. For solid waste, recycling and diversion planners, it is vital to differentiate waste sources to target programs properly.

All of this helps make recycling more effective and identifies ways to reduce and reuse a large percentage of what is landfilled.

There’s gold in them thar landfill hills.

Many items we throw away have continued value. Cell phones and electronics contain valuable materials, like gold, for example. Cardboard is exceptionally valuable now, as citizens and businesses are taking more deliveries at home. Organics such as food and yard waste can turn into compost. Aluminum and steel cans can be recycled over and over again to make new cans. According to the Aluminum Association’s Can Committee, making a new can from recycled aluminum takes 95% less energy and releases 95% fewer greenhouse gases than creating the same can without recycled material.

It all starts with the waste sort, waste characterization, and audit – which means dumpster diving!

 

We start with a pile of waste heading for the landfill, sort it, and take inventory. We don’t know yet if women are throwing out bras in response to working from home during the pandemic, but we’ll find it in the data if the correlation is there.

 

Betsy Powers is a Senior Project Manager and Civil Engineer in the SCS Madison, Wisconsin office. She has more than 22 years of civil and environmental consulting experience, including landfill design, permitting and construction, C&D and yard waste management, material recovery facility design and erosion control, and stormwater management. She serves on the Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin Board of Directors. Betsy is a registered professional engineer in Wisconsin.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

Plastics Sorting Best Management Practices Guide Released

October 4, 2018

APR Encourages Consistent Data Collection Nationwide

The Association of Plastic Recyclers announced the development of the “APR Plastic Sorting Best Management Practices Guide,” to encourage the standardization of data collected during waste characterization studies. The Plastic Sorting BMPs are intended to help the solid waste industry better understand the different types of plastic materials in the current recycling stream for comparison, to develop trending data, and to improve the industry’s knowledge about the composition of plastic waste by expanding on the current methodology. The BMP’s do not change any categories but add clarity to the existing categories that could provide more insight because the industry is naming, dividing, and sorting consistently.

Municipalities and states regularly sort their waste and recycling streams, but there is not a consistent use of terminology and categorization used by all. The BMPs define plastic sorting categories by resin and form, with categories aligning with plastic recycling commodities traded after sorting at MRFs. The terminology aligns with annual plastic recycling tracking.

APR’s standards place plastics into five categories:

  • PET and HDPE bottles and jars,
  • Nos. 3-7 bottles and small rigid,
  • Bulky rigid,
  • Film and flexible, and
  • Other plastic.

Three sorting levels provide flexibility on how extensive a study is necessary. For example, PET, HDPE natural and HDPE color are common plastic commodities nationwide; almost every recycling program is recycling the sub-categories in Level 1. While Levels 2 and 3 add more sub-categories so that the solid waste and recycling industry and municipal policies, that will always vary somewhat, will find the BMPs useful.

With the tonnage of waste increasing every year and the challenges of National Sword policies, it is more important than ever to collect data consistently to improve recovery and understand the volume of specific types of plastics to make the appropriate capital investments in infrastructure.

The solid waste industry is positioning itself to meet increased demand and enhance the quality while suppliers consider how to adapt their packaging for a future of greater recycling and reuse. Municipalities can identify more easy-to-regulate commodities for increasing commodity sales.

Quoted recently in Resource Recycling, Stacey Demers of SCS Engineers explained that standardization is a great idea to help municipalities know the percentage of recyclable plastics in their waste stream and what their program needs to target later on.

Additional Resources

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

What’s In Your Waste? Waste Characterization Study Reveals…

May 8, 2018

In 2017, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) funded its latest statewide waste characterization study, building on three previous waste sorts performed in 1998, 2005, and 2011. This meaningful data helps IDNR and local governments make informed program and policy decisions, evaluate expanding waste diversion initiatives, and improve existing program efficiencies.

Study Highlights: Provided waste composition data for the following waste generating sectors:

  • Residential
  • Institutional/Commercial/Industrial (ICI)
  • Overall
  • Participation from 13 landfills and transfer stations
  • 524 waste samples collected
  • Sorted into nine major material categories and 61 subcategories

Results Show: These three materials account for approximately for residential, ICI, and overall sector waste:

  • Organics
  • Paper
  • Plastic

 

Review the comparison of the Wisconsin and Iowa waste sorts SCS Engineers presented at the Wisconsin Integrated Resource Management Conference (WIRMC) to learn more about how the Iowa study and previous Wisconsin waste sorts compare.

Ready for a deeper dumpster dive? Download the full 2017 Iowa waste characterization study (go to “Studies & Reports” in the middle of the page) or the most recent Wisconsin study, or view the Best Practices for Waste Characterization webinar.

Want your state’s perspective?  Give us a call for more details or to talk about your waste sort needs. or visit our website to find the office nearest you. For information and nationwide case studies visit the solid waste planning page.

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:03 am

Waste Characterization Webinar – Everything you need to know to make sound decisons

April 3, 2018

Waste characterisation studies are important tools for helping local governments and private companies make decisions on the best solid waste management programs, policies, and technologies to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. Knowing what materials comprise your waste stream will help you establish the right mix of waste diversion and energy programs to make your community more sustainable.

This webinar  led by Brent Dieleman of SCS Engineers, a Senior Project Professional with the division of Sustainable Materials Management provides information on how to conduct a waste characterisation study, what data you can expect to obtain from a study, and how it can be used to make solid waste program and policy decisions. Topics of discussion during the webinar include:

  • Types of studies
  • Why do a study
  • Study design
  • Waste sampling
  • Waste sorting
  • Health and safety
  • Data analysis
  • Data usage

We thank Abt Associates on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency for the CCAC Waste Initiative for sponsoring the webinar which took place on March 2, 2018, at 2:00 pm CET.

View the webinar by clicking here.

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) Waste Characterization Studies Webinar – March 28

March 15, 2018

The CCAC Waste Initiative is hosting a webinar on Best Practices for Waste Characterization Studies on March 28, 2018 from 8:00 – 9:00 am ET. The webinar will be led by Brent Dieleman of SCS Engineers, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Webinar Description
A waste characterization study is an important tool for helping local governments and private companies make decisions on the best solid waste management programs, policies, and technologies to reduce short-lived climate pollutants.  Knowing what materials comprise your waste stream will help you establish the right mix of waste diversion and energy programs to make your community more sustainable.

This webinar  provides information on how to conduct a waste characterization study, what data you can expect to obtain from a study, and how it can be used to make solid waste program and policy decisions.  Topics of discussion during the webinar include:

  • Types of studies
  • Why do a study?
  • Study design
  • Waste sampling
  • Waste sorting
  • Health and safety
  • Data analysis
  • Data usage

Webinar access:
Join WebEx meeting
Meeting number (access code): 648 518 922

Join by phone
+1-415-655-0002 US Toll
Global call-in numbers

Thank you to the United Nations Environment, Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) for sponsoring this valuable event.

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 12:12 pm