Waste Advantage Magazine

Being dense has its advantages

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At its root, the landfill business can be drawn down to a simple mathematical calculation. An operation receives a permit for a certain number of acres and is relegated to how deep it can dig and how high it can go. The result is the number of cubic yards of space that an operation has available to fill at the site. There is one key remaining variable—how the space is filled—and this has a profound impact on the life expectancy and the profitability of the site.

A landfill must consider the type of compactor selected and the technique of how its weight is applied—how the face is compacted, the layer thickness of the waste stream and number of passes— to maximize the amount of material that can be placed in this finite asset. A wrong equipment decision or practice can be costly.

Calculated on estimated waste stream and anticipated densities, landfills are designed with a projected life expectancy. Choosing a compactor that delivers high pound-per-cubic-yard (lb/cy) densities can lengthen the life of a landfill by years. Extending the life by five or 10 years can lead to millions, if not tens-of-millions, of dollars in additional revenue for a landfill.1 Not to mention, it delays the high development costs and multiple challenges associated with siting a new landfill.

Much of the industry incorrectly believes that compaction is all about the weight of the machine. It’s actually about how the machine applies this weight and the techniques used by the operator that will help to optimize densities.2

Tips on Technique
A well-trained landfill compactor operator can be one of the operation’s biggest assets. Knowing how many machine passes, the proper way to spread the waste and the best way to compact the face can all add to (or subtract from) compaction densities.

Four to six is a rule of thumb for the number of passes to effectively compact the waste stream to the best of the compactor’s ability. Once you go beyond six passes, the law of diminishing returns takes over and the effect the compactor has on density plateaus.3 Going beyond six passes starts to waste fuel, increases wear and tear on the machine and decreases production.

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