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[GreenYes] Wisconsin requires plans to shorten time for organic stability at landfills

For your information

As of January 1st, Wisconsin now requires that landfill owners/operators develop plans and implement systems to shorten the time for the degradation of organics in landfills as a method to reduce long term environmental and financial impacts. "Organics" goes beyond food, and includes items such as wood, yard materials, paper, textiles, and other materials.

Under the new requirement, "The plan of operation for all new and expanded municipal solid waste landfills submitted to the department after January 1, 2007 shall include a plan for significantly reducing the amount of degradable organic material remaining after site closing in order to materially reduce the amount of time the landfill will take to achieve landfill organic stability."

While the state does not specify how organic stability is to be achieved, three broad categories are:

1. Diversion
2. Pretreatment
3. Treatment within the landfill

and a table of some alternatives and their status, pros and cons is provided. The following is the issue statement of the basis for this action and a web page is provided at

Issue Statement

Current landfill designs and practices do not provide for degradation of landfilled organic wastes within a defined and reasonable timeframe. Undegraded organic wastes can potentially cause future environmental or economic impacts if the landfill gas and leachate collection and containment systems (cap and/or liner) fail at some time in the future. Potential economic burdens and environmental risks associated with these undegraded wastes will be largely borne by future generations. Better landfill designs and organic management practices should be identified and implemented to provide for organic waste degradation within a reasonable timeframe.

"Reasonable timeframe" means within the lifetime of the people who generate the waste.

"Economic burdens" means costs to manage gas and leachate, to maintain the slopes and cover, to perform environmental monitoring, and to control access.

"Environmental risks" includes potential contamination of groundwater and surface water, air quality degradation, greenhouse gas impacts, explosive gas generation, and/or land instability.

The rule and the guidance package was developed with the input of a workgroup consisting of representatives of the Wisconsin DNR, the solid waste industry, local government, the University of Wisconsin, and consultants. The minutes and other materials are included on the above web page. To the best of my knowledge, Wisconsin is the only state to have developed this requirement.

John Reindl, Recycling Manager
Dane County, WI

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