Dorset transfer station creates savings for township
|By Alex Coop - Staff Writer | March 2, 2017|
In addition to boosting awareness surrounding Algonquin Highlands’ recycling programs, the Dorset landfill’s transformation into a transfer station last January has helped the township save more than $10,000 during the one-year period, just from reduced trucking costs alone.
The savings were more than what township staff expected, allowing them to buy eight more solar panels for about $9,000, complementing the existing six that came with last year’s site upgrades, and likely opening the door for additional savings in the near future.
The new panels were installed last month, each producing up to 300 watts.
Ryan Sisson, the township’s environmental coordinator, says the switch to a transfer station has positively influenced every facet of the little site, which sits on top of Maple Ridge Drive, a short drive from Dorset.
“We were able to take the savings we realized from the transportation costs and reinvest them into the project, which are now going to generate savings through fuel costs. It’s really a win-win,” he said.
Annual monitoring reports show the landfill reached its capacity - 40,000 cubic metres of solid, non-hazardous municipal waste - October 2015. The landfill first opened in 1980.
A successful application for a $69,000 Continuous Improvement Fund (CIF) opened the door to an exit strategy for the Dorset landfill.
The project costs for the recycling portion of the Dorset Drop-off Transfer Site Solar Compactors was about $156,000 and included the purchase of the two compactor units and its bins, a remote monitoring system, a generator, a storage container, a solar PV power system and general site preparation.
The total project costs, including fees related to the waste compactors, was approximately $237,000.
And the investment was worth it, says Sisson.
After a full year of operating as a transfer station, trucking costs have gone down thanks to the larger bins and automated compaction. In 2013, the township’s 20-cubic-yard bins were lifted 105 times, costing the township more than $27,400. (A lift is every time Bracebridge’s Progressive Waste picks up a fully-loaded bin containing recyclable material).
In 2016, the new 40-cubic-yard bins were lifted just 27 times, costing Algonquin Highlands about $7,000.
“That’s a considerable savings in trips,” Sisson said.
It’s also a considerable reduction in the site’s ecological footprint.
When return trips to the hauler and site are considered, the reduction is about 13 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
The township’s operations manager Mike Thomas says Dorset’s transfer station is unlike anything in Haliburton County.
“It’s also a whole new ball game for us,” he said.
Since much of the transfer station is automated, only two staff members are required to be on site. Manual compaction is no longer required either, says Thomas, as prior compaction methods involved a backhoe pressing down on the material inside the bins.
Each bin is carefully labelled with the appropriate type of recyclable material or waste it allows, and as residents make their way around the site, they are exposed to an e-waste bin, an empty bottle collection centre sponsored by the Dorset Lions Club and a reuse centre filled with miscellaneous items.
The public has embraced the township’s attention to recycling, says Thomas.
“The way it’s [the site] set up, it’s essentially a number of stations, so source separation is the key here. The public is essentially helping us divert different types of material to different locations.”
Landfill hours for all of the township’s sites, in addition to this year’s hazardous waste collection days, can be found at algonquinhighlands.ca.
ALEX COOP is a reporter for The Highlander.