Monday, October 27, 2014

Landfill grows every day

To dispose of waste four main things can be done : recycle it, compost, incinerate or landfill. 

Thanks to Darienne McNamara with the City of Superior Environmental Services who is the regulatory compliance specialist for the landfill for giving the landfill tours to 18 of us on Friday and Saturday.  Duluth, Superior and surrounding communities garbage is trucked to this Moccasin Mike landfill that opened 35 years. The landfill is projected to last about 8 more years. 
 This landfill currently accepts 10,000-15,000 tons of waste each month from Superior, Duluth, and the surrounding area. The tallest cell at the landfill is over 120 feet tall – which is the tallest land in Superior.
What can be brought to the landfill? 
The Superior Landfill accepts brush year round, along with grass clippings and leaves which are separated and used for compost. There is also a public drop off for used oil, absorbents, and filters. A Reuse Center is onsite for unwanted items that may still be usable to others, such as furniture, bicycles, etc.  As a reminder, the following items may not be disposed of at the landfill – recyclables, demolition materials, and hazardous waste including electronic waste. Some items such as tires, e-waste, and mattresses may be dropped off for a nominal fee.  There is a portion of the landfill where the public goes to dump their items after being weighed on the scale.
What did we see at the landfill?
It appeared to be quite a bit of plastic and materials that could have been recycled.
Lots of gulls but also other birds.  Quite a few eagles were scavenging as well.
Two dozer-type machine equipment were constantly moving the trash and working to compact it as much as possible.
The open part of the landfill needs to be covered every day.  What is used?
Waste sludge from New Page paper mill
Sludge from the City of Superior wastewater Treatment Plant
Sand that is swept from street sweeping in the city
What are the pipes for?  There are multiple pipes running throughout the landfill.  Some are for directing the methane gas to one main outlet pipe.  A flame is constantly burning to convert the methane gas to CO2 which is much less of a greenhouse gas than methane.
Other pipes are for collecting the liquid that accumulates in the landfill that is part stormwater and part a mix of the liquids in the landfill.  It is called leachate.  The leachate is directed to a lift station which then has it go on to the Superior Wastewater Treatment Plant.  Each year about 7 million gallons of leachate from this landfill goes to the WWTP.

Liner and Cap :  A landfill is more than a hole in the ground or a mound of garbage.  Regulatory permitting requires a proper liner be constructed for a landfill.  It includes layers, like lasagna, of materials to keep the ground water separate and feet of impermeable clay is used as well as thick plastic.    When a cell of a landfill is filled - it is then capped - again with substrate, clay, plastic, more medium and then with grass.  It required that the grass be mowed for the next 40 years to not have trees growing on site as their roots could interfere with the liner.

Parting tips:   How can we improve waste diversion?   Keep unwanted mattress dry.  When a mattress is wet it can no longer be recycled through the program at Good Will due to mold.   Please recycle plastics, glass, metals.  Use less - use reusable bags, reusable container,

Local resources:

Superior Landfill
WLSSD  - Household hazardous waste facility, major compost site for yard scraps and food wast

Douglas Co. Recycling Coordinator, Mary Klun
ReStore Habitat for Humanity store - 1621 Broadway.  722-3875
There also are textile and shoe recycling boxes through town.  They are green and white.

Don't forget about the medicine drop box at the Superior Police Dept.

Every night the landfill has to be covered.  A waste sludge from New Page is brought in and that makes up part of the covering.  Waste sludge from the Superior Wastewater Facility also is part of the covering. 

Parts of the landfill are already capped and a section in the upper half is currently in the process of being capped.
A fence was set up this year to trap some of the blowing plastic debris.
Contact the Superior Wastewater Treatment Plant for information on proper disposal of other items, including fluorescent bulbs which all contain mercury and should never go in the trash and household hazardous waste.  Disposal information is at

Thanks to those who attended the tour.  Superior, Duluth, rural Douglas County and even a Twin Cities person attended.

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