You would not be faulted for being unfamiliar with Bonneville County, Idaho. For most people in this country, it’s quite a bit off the beaten path. But for those lucky enough to live there, they get the last laugh. Few places are more beautiful, and being co-located next to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks is an extra treat.
Mike Kelsey is one of those lucky people. He’s an operator at the county solid waste department; and when he’s not outside enjoying the great outdoors, he’s at work protecting them. Like all communities, Bonneville County runs a landfill to manage the area waste stream with an emphasis is on diversion and recycling. It is a relatively new undertaking but the scope has grown considerably since Mike began working there in the late 2000s.
Emphasis on Diversion
“I’ve been here for 13 years, but we didn’t get our first piece of recycling equipment until about eight years ago,” he recalls. “We got a Doppstadt DW 3060SA to shred C&D waste in an effort to conserve space in the landfill. At first it was about volume reduction, but now we don’t put any of this material in the ground anymore.”
Prior to acquiring that first wheeled Doppstadt shredder, Bonneville County would take in C&D debris, crush it up with a CAT loader and bury it in the ground. Today, that material is separated to remove the clean wood which can be transformed into any number of useful products. Other debris is reduced or crushed and can be put down as temporary roads to help trucks access the landfill, or screened and used for ADC.
Depending on Doppstadt
Mike recalls the trial and error process of discovery that the team went through when choosing that first shredder, and they have been immensely pleased with the Doppstadt brand.
“They’re [Doppstadt machines] really easy to run and maintain,” he shares. “The maintenance for us is excellent. We’ve certainly had other machines and the experience was consistently more time-consuming on the maintenance end. Often it felt like you were working on them more than you were running them. But Doppstadt has always been great for us, so much so that we bought several more machines over the years.”
Shortly after adding that first Doppstadt shredder, Bonneville County purchased a Doppstadt SM 720 trommel screen to remove the dirt and other fines from their shredded material. A Doppstadt AK 630 came next, to further refine the shredder’s output into a more marketable product. To keep up with growing volumes, a second Doppstadt DW 3060K shredder was brought on to expand capacity.
From C&D to Green Waste
Most of this equipment is deployed now for much more than just C&D waste processing. The biggest growth in material stream has been on the organics and green waste side. Even though Bonneville County does not offer curbside yard waste collection, drop off is free and both residential and commercial customers have taken advantage of that.
“Our inbound material volume has probably tripled over just the last two years. This community is experiencing a huge growth in home sales, businesses, people relocating here from out of state,” Mike says. “That has resulted in much more material coming in, especially the green waste. We accept it free for residents and landscapers. We get some trimming, tree removals, land clearing too.”
Most of the organics waste from Bonneville County gets converted into the typical products that most communities produce from green waste: mulch, landscaping base, soils and other more creative uses have also been explored with much success.
Fuel for Local Industry
“We started out providing a fuel product to area potato chip companies. We’re in Idaho, so not surprisingly potato manufacturing is everywhere,” explains Mike. “At first they were using our green waste fuel in the dehydration process for their chips, but now they even use it to heat the building too.”
The ‘more typical’ products are the landscaping related organics that go into outdoor property management. Bonneville County does not get into the finishing of those specific goods, but rather sells their processed green waste wholesale back to many of the same landscapers that bring them the raw material in the first place.
“We’re all about wholesale,” Mike admits. “It makes the most sense for them to do the finishing to their desired specification. We offer a clean product which they can then screen, sort, size and color to meet the demands of their customers. It saves us the space required to inventory all those diverse products, and keeps us from having to focus on that side of production.”
Adding Ecostack Conveyors
Another space, time and money saving investment recently made by the county is a couple of Ecostack conveyors. Manufactured by Ecoverse, the North American distributor of Doppstadt equipment, running the Ecostack conveyors was new territory for Mike and his team, but the benefits have been equally as dramatic as they realized from their Doppstadt investments.
“Over the years we’ve come to just know that if we buy a Doppstadt, the ease of use and value will be predictable. But we didn’t have a bunch of experience with the Ecoverse brand of products,” Mike acknowledges. “We found them to be just as well engineered with super easy mobility. Before we got these Ecostacks, moving our hydraulic ram equipment from one pile to the next took a whole half day. But now in about an hour I can have all four pieces up and ready to go.”
The real estate savings comes from eliminating the need to stockpile, or consolidating pile size.
“Again, before we got the Ecostack we would process material into piles, then handle that material a second time with our loaders to get it into trucks. But the Ecostacks allow us to process straight into a truck, or create a higher pile that doesn’t require as much spread. It’s been very beneficial.”
For well more than a decade, Mike has been involved in the processing of waste streams for the county. And every day he finds it enormously satisfying, both personally and professionally.
“I love watching the material get transformed from big to little. Watching a day’s work and realizing how much of a difference we’ve just made, not just for that day but for the years to come by diverting and recycling and reusing material. We really are being part of the solution.”