POTTSTOWN PA – A family-owned garbage-hauling business in Souderton PA, 21 miles northeast of Pottstown, has won a contract to dispose of all waste and recycling items generated by the Pottsgrove School District during the coming academic year. Maybe that’s not so remarkable, district Director of Facilities and Physical Plants Michael Katzenmoyer admits, but this is:
None of the wrappers, uneaten food, discarded homework assignments, unwashed gym socks, or any other district trash – none of it, he promises – will end up in a landfill during the schools’ 2012-2013 operations.
Pottsgrove’s deal with Sustainable Waste Solutions, 684 Forman Rd., Souderton, makes it the first school district in the state to go landfill-free, Katzenmoyer has enthusiastically told the Board Of School Directors.
“We’re going to forge new ground here,” company co-owner Scott Woodrow adds.
Whatever can be recycled, will be. For what can’t, Sustainable Waste Solutions specializes in energy-from-waste (EfW) technology that will incinerate Pottsgrove’s garbage and use the resulting heat to generate electricity in steam-driven turbines. The process is not only environmentally efficient, Katzenmoyer said; it’s also economical. The contract, approved by board members in May, lowers district trash disposal costs by $4,000 over 12 months.
Woodrow’s company is no stranger to Pottsgrove. Katzenmoyer first met him and many of his 14 employees two years ago, when organizers of the Pottstown Relay For Life fund-raiser to benefit the American Cancer Society hired Sustainable Waste Solutions to haul garbage from their 24-hour event at the high school stadium. It won the Relay job again this year.
“It’s been a pleasure getting to know them,” Katzenmoyer said of the company and its performance.
At the heart of the company’s business model is EfW, the system that Woodrow said will burn Pottsgrove’s unwanted trash at 1,800-degrees Fahrenheit.
Incineration reduces the waste to ash that represents only 10 percent of its original volume, and then is used elsewhere. The exceedingly high temperature, combined with emission control equipment, ensures the company meets or exceeds strict federal standards for air quality. The electricity gets sold to power providers and returned to the grid.
Food scraps from the district’s five student cafeterias will be composted in a system that complies with government regulations regarding disease control and ground water pollution. Organic materials are broken down to create fertile compost sold for agricultural purposes. Electronic components will be recycled too, disassembled and reused.
The company’s green footprint even extends to the collection process. It has taken delivery of two trash trucks fueled by compressed natural gas, costing about $330,000 each. They’re quiet, Woodrow said; they run cleaner than diesel versions, and rely on fuel that is locally abundant and not imported from foreign nations.
“We’re very excited by, and very proud of, what we do,” Woodrow told school directors. The company’s growing quickly too, he noted. Local and national corporations operating across Montgomery County and elsewhere – Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., and Teva Pharmaceuticals among them – depend in part on Sustainable Waste Solutions for environmentally-conscious waste disposal.
As Pennsylvania’s school districts go, however, “you’re the first,” Woodrow confirmed for Pottsgrove.
Truck photo from Sustainable Waste Solutions