Operators of an eastern Iowa disposal site are grappling with an age-old problem in a new way, inviting residents of Burlington and surrounding communities to bring out their glass bottles and other items to be used as a part of construction on a new landfill. Hal Morton, director of the Des Moines County Regional Waste Commission, says they’re already busy as can be. The landfill and recycling center serve 55-thousand residents in southeast Iowa, including Des Moines County, much of Henry County and the town of Morningside in Louisa County. Morton says it’s about 55-thousand tons a year of solid waste, and he adds that with successful recycling programs in place they also divert more material from the landfill than the state average. Morton says some recycling is a better bet than other kinds. He says there are very good markets for recycled plastic and metal, but glass is another story. With few recycling centers in the Midwest, the transportation and other costs can exceed what recyclers will pay for the material. But Morton says they’re now inviting residents to set out bottles, windows and other discarded glass because they have other plans for it. A major challenge to dump managers is handling the liquid that runs off from the discarded material, called leachate Leachate’s collected for treatment and he explains they need to get it out of the landfill quickly so it doesn’t collect on the bottom. Part of doing that is increasing the prosity of the bottom layer of material in that landfill. Some operators line the big pit with sand or gravel, but Morton says it occurred to him that ground-up glass would make a good quality filter and free to the county. If they could get enough, grind it to the right size, he says it would perform better…and the county could take a lot more kinds of glass bottles and other items, without the need to “color-sort” as they do when it’s to be recycles. Glass that’s collected will be now stockpiled at the landfill while the waste commission waits to get a pulverizing machine for the next step in its plan.
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