Cover-up revolution

Australian company Tarpomatic offers an Alternative Daily Cover solution that can save some landfill operators up to $150,000 each week in airspace – all while providing a lifetime of use.

In the landfill industry, every cubic metre of airspace wasted is money lost, which is why more and more operators are trading the traditional, space-consuming daily soil cover for a compact tarpaulin solution that can be re-used over and over again.

With the help of Tarpomatic’s Automatic Tarping Machines (ATM), they are able to secure working faces in a fraction of the time – and at a fraction of the cost – of traditional soil cover, all while satisfying key EPA requirements.

The driving force behind the Alternative Daily Cover (ADC) revolution is Steve Brooks, Managing Director of Tarpomatic Australia. Tarpomatic Australia was founded in 2000, with Steve taking over in 2006. Since then he set out to modernise the labour-intensive daily cover process, setting off a chain reaction that would revolutionise an entire industry segment.

With the help of a Tarpomatic ATM, landfills no longer needed to spread a thick layer of compacted soil across the working face at the end of each day’s operation, instead simply rolling out a specially designed set of tarps that is removed again the next day (see breakout box). According to Steve, a landfill with a working face of around 500m2 might be preserving up to 500m³ of airspace each week. That’s on top of the savings made in time, machine hours, fuel and labour.

Seventeen years on, and with the first Tarpomatic ATM still in use, Steve says Tarpomatic has become the leading alternative daily cover systems in the country, and the go-to expert in airspace preservation through smart covering. “Our tarpaulin solution has quickly become the cover of choice for operators requiring a durable product with little maintenance and minimal ongoing costs that will last a lifetime,” he explains – revealing that it’s his commitment to customer service that got him so far in so little time.

“We will do what it takes to make sure our clients are getting the most out of their machines,” he says. “We often go back and visit the landfills using Tarpomatic to find out how we can improve our service. It’s not only about achieving results, but also building long-term relationships with our customers.”

By staying close to his customers at the coalface, Steve is helping a growing number of landfills across Australia streamline their operations. “Even the smaller landfills have told us it can take up to three hours to excavate, move, tip and spread soil, whereas it takes only 15 minutes to deploy a couple of tarps,” he explains.

“Once you install a Tarpomatic, the hours spent on excavation and tipping reduces dramatically, saving time and money for operators that can be better spent on other more important projects.
“When you crunch the numbers, a site with a gate fee of $150 per tonne and a working face of 500m2, the value of the airspace that is filled up with soil cover in just one week is around $75,000. In Victoria, where the daily cover requirement is 300mm of soil, this is an astounding $150,000 per week.”

By combining this “superior value proposition” with a world-class service mentality, Steve says the Tarpomatic ATM has become an indispensable tool for Australian landfills trying to maximise airspace – especially as gaining approval for new landfills is becoming harder.

A self-contained unit, the Tarpomatic ATM can be simply attached to the front of a landfill compactor or dozer, giving the operator the ability to seamlessly deploy or retrieve the specially designed heavy-duty tarpaulins over the working face. Each Tarpomatic ATM can be adjusted to suit the specific bulldozer or compactor, ensuring quick and easy attachment and removal – a key sales point for many local councils.

One local government that has readily embraced the Tarpomatic revolution is Victoria’s South Gippsland Shire Council, located some 135km south-east of Melbourne in Leongatha. The first local entity in Victoria to implement the Tarpomatic system, South Gippsland Shire Council was not only able to put an end to the time-wasting soil-covering process, but managed to increase the asset lifespan of its Koonwarra Landfill by four years due to the airspace saved.

Financially, the move has paid off too – the council has calculated the value of the airspace saved to be an astounding $670,000 over the first nine months of operation alone, Steve says.

Servicing a population of almost 200,000, Melbourne’s Wyndham City Council, in the suburb of Werribee, also recently purchased a system with an additional interchangeable spool and six tarpaulins from Tarpomatic for its landfill. The council, which processes approximately 570,000 tonnes of waste per year, was looking for an expandable product with maximum coverage. Since the spools on the Tarpomatic are interchangeable, it allows for an unlimited amount of coverage with the one machine – thus ticking all the boxes.

Tarpomatic Australia also assisted Council by preparing a submission to Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria seeking approval for use of the ADC – another key criterion of the Wyndham Council tender. The submission included supplementary documentation, such as test reports, and is a key point of difference for the company.

Besides airspace, the Tarpomatic alternate daily cover system with odour control unit also alleviates odours, litter, dust and leachate. Steve says that the process of moving and tipping dirt creates plumes of dust, which is one of the top complaints received by landfill operators from local residents and can be a concern for EPAs.

“Tarpomatic has a self-contained engine and its own hydraulics, so it can easily be attached to a variety of equipment on the landfill. Once you pick it up, you can move straight to the working space and start deploying the tarpaulins over the daily face.”

Steve adds the company’s tarpaulins are designed to meet the highest standards for tear strength, flame resistance and impermeability. By preventing water from entering the landfill working face, Tarpomatic minimises leachate and odours and reduces the risk of water and waste dissolving into potentially environmentally harmful substances.

Read the full story on page 30 of Issue 13.