Nearby landfill capacity nears limit within two decades

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Illinois Street Residence Halls, exterior (1010 W Illinois St, Urbana, IL 61801) on Wednesday, December 15, 2021. photo by Darrell Hoemann/C-U Citizen Access

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) predicted capacity limit for the Republic Services Brickyard Disposal is the lowest in the Central Illinois region, and one of the lowest for the state itself: 16.5 years as of an August 2021 report. 

Doug Fry, the landfill operations manager of the disposal, didn’t see this as an issue for the near future, but rather for a few generations down the road. 

“I don’t perceive it to be an issue here in Vermillion County. Maybe your grandchildren may have a challenge to deal with,” Fry said.

The landfill, located in Danville is one of few in close proximity to the Champaign-Urbana community. Half of the daily volume is brought in by Republic Services, its own company, and the other half is brought in by collective, local establishments. The volume of garbage ranges from around 800-1,000 tons per day. 

Urbana is one of the cities that contributes to this landfill. There are seven licensed haulers for the city of Urbana, all ranging in price and accepted volume. The specific haulers are ABC Sanitary Hauling, Chris’ Service Co., Dale Levitt Disposal, Hayden Sanitary Service, Shaffer Sanitary Co., Mel’s Disposal and Republic Services.

Republic Services also takes household trash as well as something called special waste, which is anything contaminated that “is not something you can just put out in a farmer’s field. It has to be done properly,” Fry said.

University of Illinois campus dining halls and facilities also contribute to the Republic Services Brickyard disposal.

He added that they get special waste from things like wastewater treatment plant sludge and commercial trash from restaurants.  

He added that horizontal expansion likens the capacity limits to potentially change from year to year, as it’s a process where you put the trash down on the bottom layer of the liner to build up. 

“So you’re selling airspace, right? And, you know, over the years certain spots in the landfill will settle…” he said. “So they may be 20 feet high, and five years from now, it may be 18.5 feet high because the trash actually settled,” which he said is monitored by engineers constantly. 

He added that while recycling is becoming more popular, there are challenges.

“It’s not cheap to recycle. And, in most cases it’s actually more per ton than putting it to a landfill. So something like that would require a bit of a cultural change and how we process it, what is recyclable, and how we can best utilize that to minimize what goes into a landfill,” Fry said.

City officials said Urbana recycled over 3,000 tons of material in 2020.

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