St. Landry Parish Solid Waste Disposal District: Turning Landfill Gas Into Biofuel


Courtesy of Waste Advantage Magazine

One of the pioneers in biogas use, St. Landry Parish Solid Waste Disposal District has used its landfill gas to fuel vehicles in their local Sheriff’s Department.

Born out of the need to deal with open dumps in the late 1970s, the St Landry Parish Solid Waste Disposal District’s purpose was to deal with the growing problem. Before its creation, waste was collected by a multitude of local haulers who took the waste to one of many open dumpsites. Then, in 1980, the St. Landry Parish Government, formerly the St. Landry Parish Police Jury, along with the Parish’s 12 municipalities, petitioned the Louisiana legislature to create the St. Landry Parish Solid Waste Disposal District in accordance with 1979 state law, which required the cleanup of all open dumps by January 1986. The District continues to be governed by a board of commissioners, appointed by local elected officials meeting monthly to address ongoing solid waste problems (see Commissioners sidebar, page 16).

Now serving a population of 110,000 residing in St. Landry and Evangeline Parishes (South Central Louisiana), the Solid Waste Disposal District specializes in comprehensive disposal and waste diversion practices, including traditional recycling initiatives. The District employs 28 full-time staffers engaged in landfill operations, recycling collection and processing, general administration and public education.

Strong and Steady
During this turbulent economy, the St. Landry Parish Solid Waste District has not been adversely affected, although Katry Martin, the District’s Executive Director, does point out that there has been slightly less waste generated due to the slowdown in construction activity over the last three to five years. The District’s waste acceptance rate has really not varied significantly either way. “Local sales taxes fund the bulk of operations in our Parish. Those sales taxes have not varied significantly,” says Martin. “In fact, they have actually rebounded since 2008, so we haven’t had any real deviation in our revenue source that we use to deliver programs and services.”

What Martin finds is that most of the District’s attention is directed specifically to regulatory issues, recently dealing with greenhouse gases and greenhouse gas reporting—requirements that have been imposed by the EPA. “We find that our biggest challenge is keeping up with regulatory matters that are constantly changing and the costs associated with that.” Very active on the regulatory front, the District keeps informed of all the changes in State and federal laws by attending most of the industry conferences that are available. In addition, employees are trained, licensed and certified in operating and maintaining landfills, and they also keep the District up-to-date on any changes or updates to the regulatory code. Martin says, “At every turn, we attempt to find some way to monetize environmental attributes available through certain practices.

For example, we monetize carbon credits created from voluntary greenhouse gas reductions,” says Martin. “The destruction of potent gases in advance of regulatory requirements will allow the District to market the offsets, developing a revenue stream to aid in saving on capital costs directly related to regulatory compliance.” Martin also points out that finding a valuable use for landfill gas will also develop a revenue source that will continue to aid in offsetting costs. The District invests in technologies that provide less costly ways to comply with strict regulations. In addition, savings are derived by performing environmental tasks in-house such as waste water sampling and analysis.

Interweaving Training and Safety
Not only does the St. Landry Parish Solid Waste Disposal District outsource professional training, but they also invite professionals from the field in-house on a quarterly basis to go over training material on disposal and waste reduction practices. The District is also an affiliate of the State and national associations that provide additional training resources, including the Louisiana Solid Waste Association and SWANA. Martin points out that their operators are certified through the State solid waste association at different levels depending on work requirements and classes, and that they have supervisors that provide professional training in the areas for which they are responsible. “All of the employees have the opportunity to attend classes and approximately half are required to be certified, which is also a part of the job requirement; the other half do so on a voluntary basis, so we support these efforts. They voluntarily train because it is reflected in their pay grade,” says Martin.

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