Transfer Stations and their Role in Waste Disposal Strategic Planning
Transfer Stations are in reality just conveniently situated depots where refuse collection vehicles can discharge their loads to avoid the collection vehicles travelling uneconomic and unnecessary distances to distant landfills. The waste is picked up again and compacted into larger vehicles which may carry double the tonnage carried in the street collection truck. This reduces vehicle mileage and traffic congestion, as well as avoiding collection operatives riding unproductively in the cab while their vehicle travels long distances. The transfer station gets them back on the collection round faster.
When Transfer Stations incorporate sophisticated methods of treatment or handling such as sorting for recycling, pulverisation, resource recovery, incineration, composting etc, and are built to high standards of construction, the transfer function is less important. So, they are now called MRFs (Materials Recovery Facilities), or in a slightly different form where the residual waste is also pre-treated before it leaves for the landfill, MBT (Mechanical Biological Treatment) Plants.
Refuse Transfer Stations as they were originally called are so simple they are not considered to be a "waste technology" today, however, we have included them here for completeness. In the UK and many other developed nations, few if any will be built in the future. The transfer station function will be present, but will form part of the function of MRFs and MBT Plants.
However, in its simplest form a transfer station will always embody simple transfer of waste with handling into bulk vehicles for distant disposal sites.
The use of transfer stations within other facilities nevertheless, comprises an essential tool within the waste disposal strategy of most large cities and conurbations today. The waste strategists when given a clean slate to set up a waste disposal system within a population centre will start by assessing complications that may affect the waste collection service, and recommend on basic transfer facilities to be located at suitable transport nodes.
The strategist will then continue by offering guidance on design concepts, transportation systems technology, waste handling and processing technology with target performance and technical data of plant and equipment to achieve complex reprocessing of a wide range of waste streams spread across the basic transfer facility network.
Where existing facilities already operate a brief analysis is made on the preliminary survey carried out on the current operational transfer stations with some reviews of costings and capacities. Sufficient detail is given by providing technical data sheets to meet different requirements relating to types of contracts and compliance with Health and Safety at Work duties and obligations.
The disposal of local waste brought by the public to collection and recycling locations known as, Household Waste and Civic Amenity/Recycling Sites needs to be directly integrated into the waste streams forecast ,and directly incorporated within transfer station throughputs.
As local landfill sites have become exhausted specially constructed transfer stations, designed and equipped to receive all kinds of vehicles of varying makes and capacities are required to meet future needs.
With the advent of new technology and with particular reference to the use of microprocessors for the control of equipment and plant, compactor design has moved forward to the stage where payloads can be controlled to very close limits with the minimum operator attendance, whilst achieving maximum payload economy.
The regulation of waste management facilities including transfer stations is known was Environmental Permitting and incorporates the Control Of Pollution Act 1974, the EU Landfill Directive and the Waste Regulations, plus the UK enactment of EU the PPC Regulations. Permitting controls the disposal of waste, and planning permission for a facility must be obtained first before a waste permit can be issued.
The Town and Country Planning Act (1971 England and Wales - Scotland 1972) provides the planning control for any subsequent development of land for waste treatment and disposal facilities and must meet the criteria set out in the legislative requirements of the Structure Plans and local plans relating to particular areas.
The need to prepare a Waste Disposal Plan has become self evident to most developed nations as a necessary precursor to large scale public investment in integrated waste disposal facilities
In the UK it is normal for the waste planning step to formulate a strategy to last at least 10 years forward in time with regular updating as is necessary. It should be a comprehensive document accepting the statutory requirements and clearly outlining the policies and objectives for the disposal of public and private sector wastes arising in or being brought into the Waste Disposal Authority's area.
This will involve considerable enquiry and data collection not only on the quantities of wastes but also their type and any special characteristics and what facilities are necessary for their safe and satisfactory transportation and disposal, the cost, to safeguard the environment and amenity and to use waste materials as a positive resource, where practicable, and pursue a co-ordinated public and private sector strategy covering all controlled waste sectors.
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