Innovating In The Waste Sector: Landfills & Leachate
The word ‘innovation’ often strikes terror into the hearts of clients. To them it means an idea or product that is untried and untested in the realities of the marketplace. It is a solution that is complex and technical, which is difficult for them to fully understand. They don’t know what it is they are actually signing up to. And it is probably expensive and won’t work with their budget constraints.
Although it is true that innovation can mean some or all of the above, there is a different perspective.
It is equally about taking common ideas but applying them in a better or smarter way. Or taking these solutions and simplifying them to make them more accessible, practical and implementable. By doing this ultimately the aim is to make things easier, quicker and thus more cost-effective so that we are able to achieve more.
Take landfills and leachates issues, for example. Landfills are required to keep their leachate levels below trigger points by the various state EPAs. In some cases this has not been planned for and is done as a rapid response to a measurement exceeding the limit. In some cases vacuum truck events have been utilised to remove leachate. They are spending millions of dollars when they don’t have to.
The quick-fix vacuum truck solution is not only expensive – it can cost anything from 20 to 25c/litre and the landfill can have gigalitres of leachate – it is lazy.
We take a longer term view of landfill assets. Recently, we negotiated with a regulator to give us more time to install significant infrastructure to resolve a long-term leachate problem. Councils are being unfairly rushed and forced into solutions.
This negotiated approach, while taking longer to implement, has led to a more future-proof resolution and a more cost-effective outcome for the client costing $350,000 when the alternative could have cost as much as $1.2 million for a single event. We see this as innovation for our clients.
Adam Creek is National Director – Environment & Infrastructure at Meinhardt.
Meinhardt is sponsor of the Innovation Zone and Awards at AWRE 2013