Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc. (GBB) McLean, Virginia, a national solid waste management consulting firm, is working with Taunton, Massachusetts, to find solutions to the city’s waste management challenges, including a landfill that’s running out of space.
Following a strategic review of Taunton's solid waste management services, contracts and service providers in 2018, GBB is assisting and advising the city council committee on solid waste on procurement and negotiations of services.
Taunton Sanitary Landfill is an 84-acre site operated under contract with Houston, Texas-based Waste Management, Inc. and has an area for drop-off of residential recycling and solid waste. The landfill will be full and no longer permitted to accept waste by Dec. 2019 or Feb. 2020 at the latest.
The landfill provides for the disposal of municipal solid waste, non-municipal solid waste, municipal sewage and grit and screenings from Taunton's municipal wastewater treatment plant. The landfill is permitted to handle up to 685 tons per day.
Taunton's Department of Public Works is responsible for collection of solid waste and recyclables, including special collections for yard waste, from its residents plus city buildings and public areas. It also places dumpsters at neighborhood events and community functions and plays an active role in special cleanup programs.
GBB says Taunton recognizes the benefits of the landfill will end soon, and it’s necessary to develop alternatives that will lessen the impact of losing approximately $3 million in annual benefits that accrue to the city from the contractual agreement.
GBB is working with Mayor Thomas Hoye Jr. and the solid waste committee to evaluate the next steps beyond the life of the landfill. Finding a solution that blends environmental responsibility and economic viability is important to the city.
"We owe it to our citizens to find the lowest cost possible to provide this service,” Hoye says.
As Taunton Sanitary Landfill has been filling up, there have been major changes in national recycling. Significant technological advances have made it more efficient to process single-stream recyclables, as well as mixed waste, for salable products and fuels. At the same time, the marketplace for recyclables has changed dramatically in the past few years due to policy and enforcement changes in China. As a result, recycling economics have currently become more expensive than disposal in many market settings.
"It's great to see a community rallying together to solve a significant waste management challenge with long-term vision in mind,” GBB President Steve Simmons notes. “Various departments of the city of Taunton's government are coming together to help the community and will have real and positive impact on the future."
Taunton and GBB will work towards identifying and securing alternative options for disposal over the coming months, including the potential for working cooperatively with nearby jurisdictions and alternatives to landfilling.