Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dirty Trash Equals Clean Cash

My family and I recycle every piece of trash we can, and we pick up trash other people leave on the ground, so I understand the value of taking care of our environment. That’s why it’s so exciting when I hear of things MoDOT is doing to make a difference.

MoDOT Maintenance Superintendent Owen Hasson from our St. Louis District found a way to not only sweep up trash on St. Louis area streets and make them safer for motorists, but to help the environment and save the department tons of clean cash. Thanks to a dedicated sweeping crew and a new mobile screening unit, MoDOT has the potential to reduce its contribution to our urban landfills by up to 90 percent, while at the same time producing usable fill that can be used back on various road operations.

In March this year, crews started using the new screening unit to screen the street sweepings, producing a clean usable fill and reducing landfill debris and disposal costs. One cubic yard of sweepings weighs over one ton and thousands of cubic yards of sweepings are sent to landfills each year. Area landfill companies charge up to $45 a ton to dispose of sweeping debris. Hasson worked with the Department of Natural Resources to approve the usable fill.

So far this year, night sweeping crews have picked up 2,224 cubic yards of road debris. To haul this debris straight to the landfill would have cost more than $131,000. By filtering out the sweeping debris and reusing the cleaned sweepings, the disposal cost is reduced to under $20,000, saving $101,000 in landfill fees from these night crews alone.

Night crews represent only a fraction of the debris swept up in the St. Louis area. During the day, routine maintenance crews sweep up debris from the other major roads in the area and dump that debris at their buildings to be screened by the mobile screening unit.

Hopefully this process can be expanded in other areas to save even more money and reduce what goes to our landfill. Kudos to our St. Louis Area District and Owen Hasson for looking for creative ways to save money and help the environment!