From trash to cash

Santek takes over landfill management
By DeeAnna Haney | Jun 20, 2014

Changes that began last month at the county's only landfill in White Oak may not seem like much on the surface, but they have made a big difference when it comes to county taxpayer money.

Santek Environmental, which contracted with the county to manage the landfill in 2011, took over full operation of the facility beginning May 1.

The management contract stipulated that once the amount of trash brought to the landfill reached 396 tons per day, the fixed-fee management agreement would switch to one where Santek is responsible for all costs associated with the facility.

Now that this trigger has been reached, Haywood County is no longer obligated to pay the fixed monthly fee of $127,000 for disposal costs — $1.5 million annually — and it no longer responsible for any costs associated with the landfill.

In essence, "the landfill has gone from being an expense to the county to now being a revenue source," said Cheryl Dunson, executive vice president of marketing for Santek, waste services company based in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Now, Santek is responsible for every aspect of the landfill, including financing any future construction of new cells, as well as closure and post closure costs, an expense calculated at $13.6 million back when the agreement was negotiated.

Santek is providing Haywood County a 5-percent cut of all the revenues generated at the landfill, which means the company will now be returning more than $100,000 each year back to the county.

Even with the additional waste being brought into the county, Santek has guaranteed the 30-year life expectancy of the landfill at the time the contract was signed will not be diminished. In 2011, the company indicated better compaction rates and management skills allowed them to make the guarantee.

Another part of the contract stipulated that Santek would lower the tipping fee charged to those within Haywood County from $55 per ton to $22.25 per ton.

"If the waste is generated inside Haywood County and the landfill customer can prove they are from Haywood County, they get the favorable rate," Dunson said.

Part of Santek's obligation under the contract was to get the county a permit modification to increase the landfill's service area to accept waste from 17 other counties. The modification was needed because the original 1993 landfill operating permit only allowed Haywood County produced waste to be buried at the site.

Once the permit modification was successful, Santek began trying to get customers to the landfill to reach the needed tonnage to switch to the expanded management.

The majority of out-of-county waste transported to White Oak is currently coming from Buncombe County, Dunson said. The out-of-county tipping fee is slightly more than the local fee.

One of the new improvements that came with the expanded management agreement was the addition of a machine called a tipper. This unit holds the trailers of trash hauled in by semis from outside the county.

Once the trailers are unhitched, the giant tipper inverts it to dump out the trash. Once dumped, landfill employees use heavy equipment to spread the waste evenly across the cell.

Coming next week: story on how Haywood County's solid waste program will change, including how the savings and income will be spent.



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