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RE: [GreenYes] Landfilling Yard Waste Proposal in Illinois
Hi Charlene ~

Thanks for posting this note. I had been called by a citizen in Peoria a
week or so ago, asking questions about our yard waste recovery program
because of this proposed change.

While the decomposition of grass may accelerate the decomposition of some of
the other fractions of the waste, based on our own studies at our landfill,
I doubt that in a typical landfill that there will be less space used at the
landfill or that more gas would be recovered for energy production.

On the first point, when Wisconsin banned yard waste from landfills,
landfill operators supported this move, saying that in the summer, up to 50%
of the waste was grass. They recognized that it not only filled up space,
but also caused a number of operating problems because of the huge volume.

On the second issue of gas for electrical production, due to the short half
life of the grass for decomposition, most of the grass will decompose with a
few years after it is buried, as noted by the proponents' argument of
speeding up the decomposition process at the landfill. Gas extraction wells
are typically not installed or extended until there are 5-8 years of refuse
in place, and, once installed or extended, the top third to half is not
slotted to collect gas to avoid drawing oxygen into the system. Thus, in a
typical landfill, the gas from the waste that is less than 2-4 years old
tends to go to the atmosphere, not to the gas extraction wells. If grass has
a decomposition half life of, say 1 year, only 25% of the grass is left on
an average after 2 years, and only 6% is left after 4 years. Thus, 75-94% of
the gas has already escaped to the atmosphere. And the half life of grass
decomposition could be much shorter, meaning that more of the gas escapes,
and less is captured to make electricity.

Given the significant Global Greenhouse effect of methane (21 times that of
CO2), it does not seem appropriate to put grass in a typical landfill.

Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

John Reindl, PE
Dane County Solid Waste Department

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Charlene Lemoine []
> Sent: Monday, November 26, 2001 10:39 PM
> To:
> Subject: [GreenYes] Landfilling Yard Waste Proposal in Illinois
> The Illinois General Assembly may soon have a proposal from 
> the City and
> County of Peoria to allow yard waste to be dumped in the City/County
> Landfill. Yard Waste has been banned from landfills in 
> Illinois for nearly
> 10 years.
> Proponents of the plan say yard waste will help paper and 
> other items in the
> landfill decompose more rapidly, dumping will save money on 
> collection, the
> yard waste won't take up additional space because of rapid 
> decomposition,
> and having yard waste in the landfill will significantly 
> increase methane
> production to generate more electricity.
> I have been networking with opponents of this plan in Peoria 
> and thought
> that there may be some others interested in this issue. The 
> City of Peoria
> has already approved the plan and the County has yet to 
> decide.  If the
> County does not approve the plan it won't go to the Legislature.
> I lived in Peoria from 1990 to 1995 and was active on issues 
> regarding this
> landfill.  Although the landfill is owned by the City and the 
> County, Waste
> Management presently operates the landfill. Yard waste is collected
> separately and is presently composted.
> An article today in the News Section of "Peoria Journal Star"
> ( outlines the proposal. According to the article the
> Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's Bureau of Land is 
> reviewing the
> plan and appears to be open to more research. The IEPA may 
> offer testimony
> before the Legislature if approved by the Peoria County.
> I presently serve as on the Board of Directors of the Waukesha County
> Environmental Action League (WEAL) in Wisconsin. I also serve as Waste
> Issues Representative for WEAL and I concerned that if this 
> plan "plays in
> Peoria" we may see the Waste Industry  making similar 
> proposals elsewhere.
> Thanks for any help on this issue.
> Charlene Lemoine
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