Nathan J. Comp
The new facility, to cost an estimated $3.6 million, should be operational by this fall.
The dust and debris create a heavy fog inside Dane County’s Waste Transfer Station. Had the facility’s doors been open, water spritzed from a ceiling-mounted sprinkler would push the particulates to the concrete floor, clearing the air.
“We’ll have better dust control in the new facility,” explains Mike Rupiper, special projects and materials manager with the county’s Solid Waste Division. “We’ll have to, because we’ll have more people working inside.”
Built in 2010, the 20,850-square-foot transfer station at the county’s landfill on Highway 12/18 is slated to be transformed this year into a full-fledged sorting and recycling center. The new facility is being constructed with an eye toward saving taxpayer money while reducing the county’s ever-shrinking carbon footprint.
Currently, the station is a depot for waste materials from area construction and demolition sites, which are then hauled by semi to Appleton’s Landfill Reduction and Recycling, to be reconstituted into various goods.
But once the station is modified, the sorting and recycling will occur onsite, eliminating the cost and emissions of transporting the waste 848 miles to Appleton — eight semi loads traveling roundtrip per day.
“There will be a big savings to the environment,” Rupiper says.
The modifications, approved as part of this year’s capital budget, will cost an estimated $3.6 million.
Jason Salisbury, president of Landfill Reduction and Recycling, says that sorting and recycling onsite means more exposure for the services rendered by his company, which will oversee day-to-day operations at the new facility for the next 10 years.
“What we found here in Appleton is that there is a lot more participation the more visible we are,” he explains, adding that he wouldn’t be surprised if construction and demo waste began making its way into Dane County. “We definitely intend to grow the business.”
And that’s good news for taxpayers.
“The more material we can bring in, the more money we can make,” says Salisbury. “That’s mutually beneficial.”
Less than five years old, the transfer station was built to help remove recyclable materials from the waste stream, especially construction and demolition waste, which accounts for roughly 30% of the landfill’s annual trash intake, according to solid waste and recycling manager John Welch.
Rupiper says bids will go out this summer and, if all goes well, the renovated facility will be fully operational by fall.
The new facility will include a 7,500-square-foot addition to the building’s east side and a conveyor belt to transport the waste to a sorting platform. Once sorted, the various materials will get shipped elsewhere, where they will get processed for future use.
Currently, the waste is loaded into a compactor, where it is baled and then loaded onto a semi trailer to be shipped to Appleton.
Rupiper says most of the lumber becomes boiler fuel or landscape mulch, while drywall is converted into agricultural gypsum, and metals are recycled into an assortment of new products and tools.
Salisbury says that while his company will bring some of its corporate staff to Dane County, he expects between 20 to 25 jobs will open to area residents once the facility goes online.
“If it kicks off like it did in Appleton, we could be running two shifts instead of one,” he says.
The new waste transfer station is one of several innovative programs to come out of this year’s capital budget. Solid waste managers are also testing technology designed to capture and sell the carbon dioxide created as byproduct of garbage decomposition.
And in addition to studying the feasibility of capping retired landfill cells with solar-power-producing membranes, the landfill’s compressed natural gas program will fuel an increasing number of vehicles in the county fleet.