Davis plant plans renovation to improve recycling

Monday , July 27, 2015 - 3:30 PM

Standard-Examiner correspondent

LAYTON — The Davis Energy Recovery Facility has plans to expand the building to gather more recyclables from your garbage.

Nathan Rich, executive director of Wasatch Integrated Waste in Layton, said the renovation is not only necessary, but long overdue.

“A common push-back that waste energy gets, is that it competes with recycling,” Rich said. “But it actually competes with landfill.”

Waste follows a normal process to recycle first, then the waste energy facility, and the lastly the landfill. Rich sees the project as a help to reduce the tons of garbage deposited in the landfill.

The $3.3 million project estimates a payback time of about 10 years. The project will generate the majority of its revenue from recycling cardboard. The project opens for contractor bids on Aug. 3. The renovations will begin in September and have an estimated completion date in April 2016. “Right before the green waste season comes again,” Rich said.

The renovations will not only generate more recycling, but new equipment will help filter out materials less than two inches in size.

“The project started as an idea to pull the grass out (of the waste energy facility),” Rich said. Green waste, which in the area mostly consists of grass, contains up to 90 percent water. Therefore the waste does not burn cleanly.

“On the Wasatch Front, our number one environmental issue is not solid waste, not water quality, but air quality,” Rich said.

A picture of the garbage at the landfill in Layton. The Davis Energy Recovery Facility has plans to expand.

The new additions to the facility will improve combustion and improve air emissions as well. As the waste burns cleaner, the facility can also better recover metals from the ash. Finally, Wasatch Integrated Waste predicts the facility will have less slag and therefore maintenance costs will be lower.

However, the exact savings in recovered recyclables, maintenance costs, and landfill airspace are difficult to measure. Rich plans to organize a manual quantifying of waste the facility receives. In August and November workers will sort through the garbage to project how much recyclables the facility actually receives.

The detailed waste characterization will also help Rich determine if additional renovations could be justifiable. A full dirty materials recovery facility, or MRF, project could cost $13.3 million. Yet the predicted simple payback is only five years.

The MRF recovers more than just cardboard. It picks out aluminum, tin cans, ferrous metals, and plastics to recycle. Sophisticated equipment including separators, magnets, and optical sorters, which use cameras to identify plastics then a jet of air to blast it into the correctly sorted container, could increase recycling quantities on a mass scale.

“The risk in the MRF option is we don’t know how much aluminum we can really recover,” Rich said. “At some point we have to make an assumption about the waste and what percentage will be aluminum, cardboard, plastics, and other recyclables.” The detailed waste characterization project will give a more accurate understanding of the recyclables the facility receives. In turn the facility can predict the actual revenue and payback period.

Rich believes curbside recycling and MRF systems can work together. “If you are willing to pay the expense, they are not mutually exclusive,” Rich said about the two recycling options. Curbside recycling programs provide cleaner recyclables but at a low quantity. An MRF provides more dirty recyclables, but at a much higher quantity.

“About half of our cities have curbside recycling in place,” Rich said. Layton is rolling out a purely subscription recycling program. Rich explains that about 20 percent of the population participates in a subscription recycling program. Other cities, such as Clearfield, have an opt-out system. The opt-out programs get up to 80 percent participation. “You find you pick up a lot of the apathetic middle ground,” Rich said.

Curbside recycling programs would not infringe on the materials recovery facility. “There will always be recyclables going into the waste energy facility,” Rich said. He hopes to gather as much to recycle as possible, while improving combustion, and saying landfill space. 

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