Re-using winter sand from city streets is extending the life of Barrie Landfill.
Councillors heard Monday about a pilot program that diverts 87% of recycled street sweepings from the landfill, helping keep it open until 2035.
“The extension of the life of our landfill is incredible,” Mayor Jeff Lehman said. “If you think of the fact that we were facing closure this year, and all of those innovations that have occurred, managing the landfill, have extended the life now almost 20 years.”
Barrie Landfill's life extension is due to the several elements of the city's landfill re-engineering project, scheduled to be complete in mid-2018, and the sustainable waste management strategy, which increases recycling and keeps waste out of the landfill.
Extending the landfill's life also delays some large expenditures for the city. Closing it would cost $6.5 million, then $600,000 annually for maintenance.
And the city would need to find another place to put its waste.
“Life extension does indeed save considerable expenditures,” said John Thompson, the city's director of environmental services.
These measures have extended the landfill's life by about 18 years, from 2017 until 2035, and the city continues to look for ways to extend that lifespan too.
Like the recycled street sweepings pilot program.
A year ago, city staff looked at how much of the winter sand put down on Barrie streets was recovered the following year – through street sweeping, cleaning half of its catch-basins and in other stormwater infrastructure.
“We put so much material down, to keep everyone safe on the roads in the wintertime,” said Jacob Reid, the city's senior operations technologist. “That material ends up in our creeks, our lake, our stormwater management ponds, that we have to dredge.
“So all of our stormwater operations are starting to become costly; how can we ... retrieve that material. That was the driving question for this pilot project program and trying to understand, really, how much material are we recovering, from where.”
Of what was collected, staff checked what was contaminated, what needed to be done with it if it was contaminated and, if not, what should be done with that.
Staff say there's an industry myth that winter sand already applied to roads cannot be re-used because it loses edges and isn't safe for vehicle traction.
But staff say this is untrue.
Reid said there need to be different particle sizes in the sand; this creates the traction in material spread on city streets. And once the sand was separated from the junk, it could be reused – after the city tested it, of course.