Working in the Waste Management industry can be very lonely at times.

Despite recycling efforts, “green” initiatives, and organic waste diversions (composting); mankind will always generate solid waste and those charged with its stewardship are going to be criticized, whether they are doing a good job or not.

Since the industry is a “quasi” utility (needed by everyone), a love-hate relationship is formed. Love the trash company for picking up your trash, but hated when the trash company wants to expand the landfill for that trash. This creates a dark side to Waste Management, the long-term storage of the waste.

Industry Adapts

Even with increased regulations, costs, and political interference a crisis has been avoided in most regions, but only because waste management gained sophistication and figured out how to make landfills more high-capacity and efficient than your grandfather’s local “dump.”

So far this ability to adapt has kept the waste “off the streets” and environmental protections in place. For the most part the industry has handled the dark side of waste management.

“Barking at the Moon”

Communities are campaigning to close their local landfills every day. These campaigns are not waged to improve landfill operating conditions, but to shut down the landfills and ship their waste down the road to “somebody else’s back yard”. Adding to the challenges is the re-introduction of environmental justice legislation in many states has brought phrases like “fair treatment” and “disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences” and runs the risk of reverting back to local “dumps”.

The waste still must go somewhere. Until the locality has maximized their current landfill and have no choice but to send the waste elsewhere, everyone is just “barking at the moon”.

The Light – Incremental Innovation

Innovation doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. In fact, incremental innovation is most common; it builds on something that already exists.

safeBERM® and safeSTORAGE® technologies are examples of incremental innovation. These methodologies are leading-edge, but based on a solid foundation of simple, tried-and-true engineering principles.

As recycling evolves, disposal technology evolves in counterpoint. Encapsulated Mechanically Stabilized Earthen (eMSE) Berms are one way to enable landfills to increase capacity without increasing footprint, which can extend their useful lives by decades. – The Light