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What are the Alternatives?

The City of Glendale established its Zero Waste Policy in 2010 and committed to operating a clean, high-tech, and integrated waste management system. In addition, our commitment to renewable energy sources is evidenced by conversion of landfill methane gas to help power steam generators at Grayson Power Plant, which provides 7% of Glendale’s energy needs.

The City’s plan for Scholl Canyon seeks to meet the needs of the City to responsibly manage its solid waste in an integrated manner and to balance quality of life, environmental, and economic impacts for residents, businesses, the City, and Scholl Canyon users in the best possible manner. It’s critical that the City sustain service levels and be progressive environmentally and balance economic considerations during these ongoing tight budget conditions.

The important elements of the City’s system for the future include:

  • Scholl Canyon Landfill Disposal – though permitted for 3,400 tons per day (TPD), average TPD for the past decade has been 1,400 TPD and has been less than 1,000 TPD during the economic downturn last decade. The costs of closing the landfill are enormous, near $3 million. Thus, the landfill’s continuation as part of the City’s integrated solid waste management system is an important cost savings that benefit other essential city services during tight municipal budget conditions.

  • Recycling and Materials Recovery – increase recycling of glass, plastic, aluminum, paper, e-waste, household hazardous materials, green waste, asphalt, soil, tires and other metals.

  • Alternative & Conversion Technologies – implementing an anaerobic digestion conversion technology project including yard waste and food. Additional alternative and conversion technologies are under review but not yet permitted in California (plasma, gasification, etc.).

  • Study of Exclusive Franchise System for Private Haulers – such collection systems are being utilized in many major cities in the U.S. due to a variety of environmental, service, and economic benefits.

The following is an analysis of the accomplishments, potential, and challenges facing each of these components of the City’s integrated waste management program.

A. Scholl Canyon Landfill Disposal

The City of Glendale has long controlled its own destiny with regard to solid waste management. This has provided long-term security, financial stability, and environmental protection to the City in an era characterized by closing landfills, landfill scarcity, and rising landfill costs. And, it is reassuring to know that the City controls how safely and environmentally responsible its waste is handled.

In that regard, Scholl Canyon is a major asset for the City within its integrated waste management strategy. Our long-term proposal is to maintain the availability of that asset for use in a responsible, reasonable manner – not to expand operations or to lessen our commitment to recycling, materials recovery, and alternative and conversion technologies. We want our residents and businesses to be protected from and not be held hostage by other government entities or private companies, which could cause major disruptions to the delicate balance within our integrated waste management system.

If Scholl Canyon were to close, resulting in transportation and disposal of the City’s existing solid waste at Sunshine Canyon Landfill, the overall cost increase to the City of Glendale would be in excess of $3 million per year. Outlined below are the effective cost “savings” represented by continued availability of Scholl Canyon:

  • Increased Disposal Costs ($1.3 million)

Disposal costs at Sunshine Canyon landfill are $25 per ton higher than Scholl. Assuming 200 tons per day are disposed of at Sunshine, the annual cost increase for disposal is approximately $1.3 million. This estimate is conservative as it excludes current Saturday trash collection.

  • Increased Fuel Costs ($440,000)

50 trucks making a 30-mile round-trip excursion to Sunshine Canyon landfill would lead to an annual cost increase for fuel purchases of approximately $440,000.

  • Increased City Personnel Costs ($1.04 million) 50 city collection trucks making an average of 2 trips to Scholl would result in an extra 100 man-hours per day and an annual increase for personnel costs of approximately $1.04 million.

B. Recycling and Materials Recovery

Glendale has an impressive track record in recycling and materials recovery. As state waste reduction laws have strengthened over the years, Glendale has consistently exceeded state requirements and been a leader in recycling and waste diversion. The Glendale Recycling Center located at 540 W Chevy Chase Drive was built in 2005 to process source-separated recyclables. In April of 2014, the facility received a Solid Waste Facility Permit (SWFP) to address residual waste and provide an opportunity to process solid waste for more recyclable recovery. Some of the recyclables separated at the facility include cardboard, paper, plastic, glass, aluminum and other metals.

The City obtains waste reduction and diversion credit for all activities documented in the annual report to CalRecycle. These activities include recycling from curbside programs, diversion from the construction and demolition recycling program, special event recycling, increased organic diversion from composting workshops, and direct outreach to Glendale schools. The City also encourages recycling education at community events, has public drop-off recycling centers and performs legislative outreach. The City also obtains recycling credit from the State for recycling holiday trees, and a portion of bulky items collected curbside.

C. Alternative and Conversion Technologies

The solid waste management industry is evolving and Glendale is in step with progress and innovation. The evolving field of alternative and conversion technologies also holds much promise for Glendale and our environment. While large-scale conversion technology is still not a reality in California, our plan is to aggressively research and implement new technologies as they are approved and come on-line in California with the goal of further reducing our dependence on landfills and to increase our sources of renewable energy.

  • Anaerobic Digestion/Converstion Technology - the City of Glendale is presently developing a project featuring anaerobic digestion technology applied to organic waste (yard clippings and food). The project will process the waste and produce high-grade methane gas at a location yet to be determined. Approximately 250 tons of organic waste will be processed. This project and others have the potential to increase the 7% of Glendale’s renewable energy production.

Anaerobic digestion is a biological process similar to composting, but without air/oxygen. As in composting, micro-organisms or bacteria break down organic matter into simpler, smaller compounds and reduce its bulk or mass. Anaerobic digestion occurs naturally and can be used to process a wide range of materials including paper, cardboard, grass clippings, food, agricultural, industrial effluents, sewage, and animal waste.

However, unlike composting which consumes energy, anaerobic digestion can be used to create energy in the form of biogas, just over half of which is methane. Digestate is a solid material produced in the process that may be used as a feedstock for other biofuel production and for innovative fiber building materials.

  • Other Alternative and Conversion Technologies – the City of Glendale will continue to study new and existing technologies such as:

  • Composting – this process involves organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment. At its simplest level, composting requires wet green waste, which breaks down into jumus after a period of weeks or months. Modern, methodical composting is a multi-step, closely monitored process with measured inputs of water, air, and carbon- and nitrogen-rich materials. Moisture, aeration, worms, and fungi further break up the material.

  • Plasma Recycling – this process is relatively new and largely untried. It involves heating waste at high temperatures to produce gas that can be burned for energy and rocky solid waste that can be used for building. Plasma recycling heats waste in a closed container melts and vaporizes the waste and does not involve combustion. Only an environmentally inert aggregate material is produced. Thus, the process creates energy and produces no air pollution, ash, or dust.

  • Gasification – this process converts organic or fossil fuel based carbonaceous materials into carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. This is achieved by reacting the material at high temperatures without combustion, with a controlled amount of oxygen and/or steam. The resulting gas mixture or fuel is called “syngas.” The power derived from gasification and combustion of the syngas is considered to be a source or renewable energy. Syngas may be by burned directly in gas engines, used to produce methane and hydrogen, or converted into synthetic fuel. Gasification of fossil fuels is currently widely used on industrial scales to generate electricity.

  • Other Alternative and Conversion Technologies – additional waste reduction processes being researched and tested around the world include Pyrolysis, Mechanical Heat Treatment (autoclaving), Mechanical Biological Treatment, In-vessel Composting and Biodrying.

D. Franchise System for Private Haulers

Presently, the City of Glendale collects trash, recyclables and green waste from most single family homes and small apartment buildings in Glendale. Private haulers compete to provide such services for larger apartment complexes and business or commercial accounts. Because of new State legislation that requires the City to track compliance for each applicable multi-family and commercial property, the City is researching the option of using a franchised hauling system. Assembly Bill 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 206, mandates commercial recycling and was the foundation for Assembly Bill 341 which set a statewide goal of reducing, recycling or composting not less than 75% of solid waste generated by 2020. The bill mandates that a business (including a public entity) generating four or more cubic yards of commercial waste or a multi-family property of five units or more, arrange for recycling service, on or after July 1, 2012. Municipalities are required to report on the progress achieved by all solid waste collectors including recycling, outreach, identification, monitoring and if applicable enforcement via annual reports. It is difficult for Glendale to report on this progress with a permitted hauling system.

The City is studying the implementation of an exclusive or non-exclusive waste franchising system for private haulers due to a variety of potential service improvements and efficiency benefits that may be realized. An exclusive franchise is where a single hauler (or group of haulers broken into specified districts) collect disposed materials and recyclables within a defined “service area.” A non-exclusive franchise is where a specific area is open to a group of registered or permitted haulers. A non-exclusive franchise would allow a larger number of haulers to operate in the City, but give customers a choice to select their hauler.

Examples of local cities utilizing each type of system include:

Exclusive franchise systems possess the following potential benefits:

  • Benefits for the Environment, the City and Private Haulers

  • Pre-established garbage rates

  • Higher recycling rates

  • Reduced truck maintenance costs

  • Reduced trucks on road

  • Reduced road surface degradation

  • Increased truck life

  • Clean fuel vehicle use

  • Local landfill life extension

  • Customers

  • Competition usually provides the lowest cost for the best available service

  • Predictable and measurable price escalators

  • Liquidated damages for missed pickups caused by labor disputes

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