Compactonomics – Part 2
By Neal Bolton
When we asked those surveyed where they go for reliable information in regard to landfill compaction, the highest-ranking choices were one’s own experience and onsite density tests. Obviously when it comes to compaction, seeing is believing.
Ranking lowest in regard to information sources were equipment dealers, followed closely by trade journals or associations and consultants or engineers. Again, it seems as though generally, landfill folks rely more on what they see and know than on what they hear or read.
That trait, while speaking volumes for independent thinkers, also whispers of a serious limitation. When we must rely on our own experience to make trusted decisions, we are all limited indeed. I recently spoke at a landfill-operations conference in Kansas. As I stood in front of 140 landfill operators, my 34 years of experience paled in comparison to the well over 1,000 years of landfill experience of my audience.
Three hundred years ago, Isaac Newton calculated the force required to put an object into orbit around the earth. But alas, he never left the ground. It took thousands of knowledgeable people, building on each other’s experience, to get it done.
Most other industries have reliable standards. The American Society for Testing and Materials has established material standards for steel, plastic, wood, soil—virtually every building material with the exception of garbage. Similarly, if you want to build a house, a bridge, or a road, there are standards (like the Uniform Building Code) that are reliable. Few carpenters feel the need to test every type of wood to know which one is right for a given application. Most feel comfortable using cedar shakes for the roof, yet few have participated in a cedar-versus-pine demonstration project.
In terms of standards, landfill operations are lacking. Despite the variation from site to site, we’d all benefit by having a trusted clearinghouse of information. Keep networking and sharing information. If you’re in the landfill business, get busy.
Here’s what can you do to increase the bottom line (in order of importance):
- Waste compaction
- Cover-soil ratio
- Labor reductions
- Machine maintenance costs
- Liner construction costs
- Closure funding
- Engineering costs
- Litter control
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