It’s rare to find someone recycling all recyclable materials. No matter how easy a waste collection company or municipality makes it through blue cart and green waste bin sorting, some recyclables will ultimately end up in the landfill.
Forward-thinking companies such as C&S Waste Solutions of Ukiah, Calif., are taking the extra steps necessary to keep as much material as possible from winding up in the landfill.
“We’re in the business of diverting material from the landfill,” says Bruce McCracken, partner at C&S Waste Solutions. “Not being proactive and pulling material from the waste stream seems strange to us. It is throwing away revenue.”
C&S became part of the Northern California market in 2008, when it purchased the assets of a waste company in Lake County. It collects municipal solid waste (MSW) from the citizens of Ukiah, Clearlake and three-fourths of the population of Lake County.
The state requires counties and cities to divert a minimum of 50 percent of discarded materials from landfills. The C&S Ukiah headquarters operates a transfer station, material recovery facility (MRF) and compost facility to help communities adhere to this law.
To divert recyclable materials from the landfill, C&S offers free blue cart recycling for items like newspapers, magazines, cardboard, food and beverage bottles and jars, metal cans and plastic bottles. For ease, no sorting of these materials is required by the customer. The company also offers green bin collection for grass clippings and other yard clippings, which goes to the company’s composting facility.
The Ukiah location receives MSW from its own fleet of collection trucks and from self-haulers. This material is spread across a transfer station floor and hand sorted to recover recyclable material from the waste stream prior to the material being sent to the landfill. “We’ll pull anything from carpet padding to scrap metal from the waste,” explains McCracken. “It just makes ecological and economic sense.”
What didn’t make sense to C&S was the traditional approach to transfer station equipment and design. Wheel loaders handling the material weren’t helpful in removing bulky items from the trash during sorting. The buckets weren’t designed to efficiently handle odd-shaped pieces, such as scrap metal and high dimensional lumber, and it took as long as 30 minutes to load a trailer.
Some transfer station designs included buildings with low ceiling clearance, making them susceptible to damage by end-dump trailers delivering their loads. Overhead doors and support beams also were targets for damage by trucks, trailers and loading equipment.
Additionally, the excavated tunnels or elevated floors designed to allow wheel loaders to push material into a container were expensive to build, and “they were a safety concern as well,” says McCracken. “In my 30 years in the business, I’ve seen wheel loaders drop into the trailer because they got too close to the edge.”
A smarter transfer
In 2011, C&S owners Dave Carroll and John Shea and partners Damon Shea and McCracken took the opportunity to address the shortcomings of traditional transfer station philosophy when designing a new transfer building at the Lake County facility. They considered new approaches to construction as well as new types of equipment to help sort, move and load waste and recyclable material.
A major change for the new 20,000-square-foot building is that the entire concrete floor is level. No elevated portions or excavated tunnels are included for loading trucks with a wheel loader. “In addition to addressing a safety concern for us, this saved the company several hundreds of thousands of dollars on building construction,” Carroll says.
The savings and unique construction approach were made possible, in part, because C&S bucked tradition and decided to use a Terex Fuchs material handler for loading trucks and assisting with material sorting. This move also eliminated the need for push-wall construction and maintenance required with the use of wheel loaders. “Anything we can do to be more innovative and forward-thinking helps our customer by stabilizing rates,” McCracken says.
C&S also incorporated an “open” design to the structure by eliminating the doors and some of the enclosures. Nearly all of the building’s 170-foot front span and 150 feet of one side feature a clear span design with no obstructions. The building’s interior beam height is 33 feet, 8 inches and the ceiling is 36 feet high, which allows plenty of room for both end-dump truck offloading and material handler operation.
Different lane designation signs allow for the floor area to be segmented into loads of yard/wood waste, MSW and recyclable material.
“The new transfer station in Lake County is built for efficiency, to quickly sort and load material into trailers for further processing or landfilling,” says Jason Ketchum, account manager for Road Machinery, a Terex Fuchs material handler distributor in California.
Wave of the future
According to McCracken, the company’s decision to switch from a wheel loader to a material handler as the primary loading equipment at the transfer station is paying off. “The handler is more efficient than the loader,” he says. Ketchum and Road Machinery assisted C&S in selecting the right size of material handler for the operation. “Due to the 33-foot-8-inch height restriction, we recommended the Terex Fuchs MHL320 D with a 31.4-foot reach for working inside the building without damaging the ceiling,” Ketchum says.
The MHL320 D is powered by a 114-horsepower diesel engine and delivers the torque required for up to eight 8 rpm swing speed, designed to increase loading productivity. Its four-point hydraulically operated stabilizers and wide underbody contribute to its lifting capacity. Solid rubber tires and a rigid front axle with a 30-degree steering angle are designed to allow the operator to easily navigate around the yard.
C&S uses its material handler to help improve the workers’ sorting efficiency on the tipping floor. “If a load comes in with heavy items, such as high dimensional lumber,” says McCracken, “the handler will pull it out of the pile, making sorting a little easier for the workers. We use the handler to pick up everything from concrete and MSW to wood and scrap metal.”
Carroll adds, “We love the versatility the machine offers by giving us the ability to handle several different material types.”
Because the Terex Fuchs handler is working with a variety of material, Ketchum recommended the 0.50-cubic-yard four-tine Rotobec grapple attachment. “This style of grapple is a bit more forgiving than a five-tine, so it allows the operator to handle a broader range of material and assists with quickly loading the trailers,” he says.
Steve Brezinski, Terex Construction heavy equipment product manager for material handlers adds, “The MHL320 D also comes standard with an 11-kilowatt generator to run a magnet for sorting and cleanup, should C&S need this type of attachment in the future.”
Offering an elevated cab design with a maximum eye-level of 17 feet, the handler improves trailer loading efficiency in addition to sorting efficiency. McCracken says, “The elevated cab allows the operator to peer over the sides of the trailer, so he can properly load the material. The cab also offers a bird’s eye view of everything, so the operator can easily see the workers on the ground.”
C&S reports that by using the material handler, workers have reduced the time it takes to load a trailer by one-third. More importantly, it is helping to improve the process for diverting material from the landfill. McCracken estimates that an additional 25 to 35 percent of recyclable material is now pulled from the waste stream at the transfer station. This is on top of the recyclable material from the blue and green cart programs that are already being diverted.
This experiment with the Terex Fuchs MHL320 D material handler has proven that by rethinking the traditional transfer station concept, a company can save money, improve efficiency and reduce the amount of material that is landfilled.
McCracken says, “Material handlers at transfer stations are the wave of the future.”
Carroll adds, “The handler will ultimately replace the larger loaders at our other transfer stations.”
The author is with Z-Comm and submitted this case study on behalf of Terex Construction Americas, www.terex.com, based in Southaven, Miss.