City solves landfill worries with transfer station
Olathe, Kan., is using a new transfer station, built through a public/private partnership, to remain competitive in the Kansas City metropolitan area solid waste market, which is dominated by private haulers.
The city provides its residents with solid waste collection and disposal. But when the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act’s Subtitle D requirements went into effect, Olathe was faced with spending millions of dollars to either upgrade the existing landfill or build a new site. Hauling the trash in city vehicles to a privately owned landfill 20 miles away was another option.
However, none of these options was cost effective, so the city decided to build a transfer station. This option would mean that someone else would dispose of Olathe’s trash and deal with Subtitle D requirements.
A public/private partnership between Olathe and Hamm Construction, Perry, Kan., resulted. The private company operates the transfer station and hauls the trash to a landfill it owns and operates 30 miles away, while the city handles billing at the gatehouse and maintains the surrounding property.
Thus, the city can haul its trash to the station – a local facility – at a cost lower than that involved in running its own landfill, while the private company has an increased waste stream and source of revenue.
Olathe currently generates around 23,000 tons of residential trash per year. A yard waste composting program helps divert 15 percent of the waste stream, and recycling drop-off sites divert additional material. By the end of 1977, a curbside recycling program will be implemented throughout the city. Overall, Olathe is working to meet its solid waste needs by diverting a significant portion of the waste stream (to exceed the state goal of 25 percent) and landfilling the balance using an environmentally sound and cost effective method.
The public/private partnership continues to work as planned, with both parties fulfilling their part of the contract. The private company paid for the actual transfer station structure, while the city provided the scale and scale house, the roads and surrounding property. Harris Construction, Lawrence, Kan., a sub-contractor for the private company, also worked with both parties during planning and construction.
Olathe’s expenses totaled $935,000, including surveying, grading, construction and landscaping. Construction began in January 1995 and was completed within 10 months.
Disposal rates at the transfer station are lower than current rates at the private landfill. In addition, the city has reduced its fuel and maintenance costs by 25 percent and its overtime costs by 33 percent to 50 percent. The city’s vehicles can stay on their routes longer, and the drive to the transfer station and the actual dumping are completed on paved roads. Thus, deterioration of trucks has been decreased.
The community also benefits from the new transfer station, which is easily accessible for public drop-offs in an area separate from that used by large commercial vehicles. Bins for yard waste, debris, tires, old appliances and recyclable products have been placed around the building.
The station, located in an industrial park, is appropriate for the surrounding land uses. With the planting and constant upkeep of shrubs, trees and grass, the site is aesthetically pleasing as well.
Private haulers, coming in increasing numbers to use the more convenient, clean and less expensive transfer station, are also realizing benefits from the lower tipping fees and the decrease in truck maintenance due to the paved road and clean dumping site.
Some of the partnership’s stipulations include daily cleaning of the facility by the private company, and hauling of all on-site trash within 24 hours to prevent odors and other problems associated with such a facility.
City employees work daily alongside those from the private company, and revenues have continued to increase as the transfer station’s popularity has grown. Even with the increase in Olathe’s population, the city will have to raise its monthly solid waste fee by only 1.5 percent in 1997.