Eastern North Carolina landfill converts trash into electricity
Find out how one landfill is energizing three counties by composting, recycling, giving environmental tours and more.
Monday, July 25, 2011 - 15:35
GOOD PLAN: Environmentally sound landfill cell in the construction phase. (Photo: Wendy Card)
The Coastal Environmental Partnership (CEP)'s Tuscarora landfill joined forces with INGENCO in 2007 to turn methane generated from the landfill into electricity. It was the first landfill East of Raleigh, N.C. to convert trash into energy.
The authority was created in 1990 as the Coastal Regional Solid Waste Management Authority. Operations began on October 9, 1993. Allen Hardison, Executive Director of the Coastal Environmental Partnership, explained, "We adopted the CEP name as a trade name to allow for a shorter and more descriptive name" in 2008.
It is a proactive, environmentally friendly agency that is always looking for ways to improve its three sites; one landfill and two transfer stations in Carteret and Pamlico Counties. The trash is transferred to the Tuscarora Landfill in Craven County.
The average daily disposable rate is 665 tons of solid waste. Hardison noted, "It was about 850 tons per day at the peak before the recession. Largest decrease was in construction and demolition material, due to slow down in the construction business."
Tuscarora creates create large, environmentally sound cells. Each cell is designed to protect ground water and this is done by constructing a base liner. Hardison explains, "The base liner consists of one foot of clay, covered by two layers of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). A drainage layer assures that water seeping into the landfill can be extracted and treated. We use the City of New Bern's Wastewater Treatment Plant to treat our waste water."
The days of the Love Canal and Mobro 4000 Garbage Barge are long gone! The CEP has discovered a way to use 3 million tons of trash as a natural gas resource and how to convert "Trash into Electricity."
As waste enters the landfill, it begins to decompose. This causes methane to build up in the landfill. Methane can cause global warming, so it is illegal to release it into the air. The Coastal Environmental Partnership sells the methane gas to INGENCO, which produces electricity from methane. Hardison described, "The amount generated by INGENCO is enough to meet the annual needs of about 2,500 homes, according to the USEPA. INGENCO has recently expanded their generating capacity by 50 percent to 6 megawatts. As the CEP has more methane gas to sell, the expanded capacity of INGENCO will allow for more electric generation."
Current initiatives include:
• Recycling wooden palettes
• Scrap tire recycle
• Environmental education
• Began construction of fourth lined cell (interim phase 1, 2, 3) in May 2011
• Oyster shell recycling
These groups are constantly striving to spread the word about ways residents can make small changes in their lives to improve our environment. They educate the public by using social media, public presentations school classes, civic groups, community organizations, landfill tours, trade shows and so forth.
Interesting fact, the Tuscarora landfill is well known by locals as the highest point in Craven County, at 160 feet above sea level.
Thanks, Allen, for taking the time to explain the inner workings of the landfill operations. You and the CEP Team do a fantastic job with community outreach by teaching us about the three R's of waste management: reduce, reuse and recycle.
Please feel free to comment below or send me an email.
Photo: Wendy Card