South Gippsland Shire Council invests in Tarpomatic

Tarpomatic’s alternative daily cover system is saving Victoria’s South Gippsland Shire Council almost a million dollars worth of landfill airspace each year.

When the waste management team at South Gippsland Shire Council presented a business case for an alternative landfill cover system, they were confident of council’s support.

As a small rural municipality, the council services a population of under 30,000 residents. Geoff McKinnon, Coordinator Sustainability, says that this requires prudent financial management, and an alternative landfill cover system wasn’t accounted for in the council’s 2014/15 annual budget.

But Geoff and his colleague Peter Roberts, Waste Management Supervisor, knew that significant efficiencies were possible at the council’s Koonwarra Landfill, provided an alternative to the traditional soil-based daily cover could be implemented.

The current stage of the Koonwarra Landfill was forecast to reach capacity in 2027/28. With this in mind, the forward-thinking council took a proactive step to look for ways to extend the life of the landfill for as long as possible into the future.

Once the landfill reaches capacity, one alternative disposal route would have been to send its waste to another facility, significantly impacting council’s annual budget and ratepayers. The other option was to design and construct a new landfill or apply to extend Koonwarra’s tipping capacity. In an industry where new landfill approvals are becoming difficult to obtain, Peter says that saving airspace and extending the life of its site was crucial for the small council.

He says that in 2014, the council’s waste management team developed a master plan for the operation of Koonwarra Landfill, its only operational landfill. The option of exploring alternative daily cover options was one of the outcomes from the master plan.

“We looked at all the different options that were available at the time. This included tarpaulin-style covers, lift on/lift off covers and spray on cover. We determined the tarp-system was the best for our situation with a wet winter climate, suitable for undulating surfaces and low ongoing costs,” Peter explains.

“We proposed the system to council and briefed them on its viability and the benefits it could provide. As a result, council approved a budget adjustment, allowing us to start the tender process immediately. The longer we delayed it, the longer it would have cost us valuable airspace.”

Peter and Geoff met with the EPA with the knowledge that some Victorian landfills were trialling tarpaulin-based cover at their sites. They discussed the outcomes that council wanted to achieve, and the EPA indicated that the proposed system would be approved. The approval was conditional on the council’s demonstration that tarpaulin-based cover would provide as good or better performance than the traditional soil cover. A public tender process was undertaken for the supply of a landfill cover system, with the condition that EPA approval was obtained prior to purchase.

Peter says that Tarpomatic’s Automatic Tarping Machine won the tender because of the quality of their product, competitive pricing and their demonstrated performance at other landfill facilities.

The successful tenderer not only had to supply and install the cover system, but also prepare the application for consideration by the EPA. Peter says the application prepared by Tarpomatic, with site-specific information provided by council, was approved by the EPA without the requirement of a trial period, a first for Victoria.

“Tarpomatic provided great assistance in getting this approval over the line. Tarpomatic’s Managing Director Steve Brooks is highly knowledgeable about the technical details of his product, which made up a significant part of our application. We knew Tarpomatic had extensive experience in working with other state regulators,” Peter says.

Council deployed the Tarpomatic at its Koonwarra Landfill in July 2015, saving landfill airspace valued at approximately $960,000 per year over the last two years. It is forecast that the introduction of the system will extend the life of its landfill by up to four years to 2031.

A self-contained unit, the Tarpomatic ATM attaches to the front of a landfill compactor or dozer, giving the operator the ability to effortlessly deploy or retrieve the specially designed heavy-duty tarpaulins over a landfill’s working face each day.

“As a small landfill, daily cover material and the airspace it consumes has a major impact. At small landfill sites like ours, the ratio of cover material used, compared to waste received, is never as good as can be achieved at larger landfills.

“These facilities could be receiving more than 1000 tonnes of waste per day compared to our 60 to 70 tonnes. Despite this, we still had the same requirement of 300mm of soil cover material per day as the really big landfills.” he says.

Even though Koonwarra is a small landfill, Peter says the change to an alternative daily cover method has been significant.

The improvement in compaction rate has led to a saving of almost 6500 m3 of airspace each year since the Tarpomatic system was installed. With compaction now running at close to one tonne per m3 of airspace, at council’s current waste disposal fees, this airspace has a value of approximately $960,000 annually.

Another advantage to the Tarpomatic is the option for an odour control unit.

“Our Tarpomatic unit has a deodoriser unit installed which can spray a mist of deodoriser solution over the waste as you are deploying or retrieving your tarp,” Peter says.

He adds that another quality of the technology is its durability. Tarpomatic’s tarpaulins are constructed using a heavy-duty dual-layer laminated polyethylene fabric and each tarp has more than 150m of heavyweight chain built in so that they weigh 400kg each. The landfill’s location is prone to strong winds, and in the two years of using Tarpomatic the tarps have never moved from where they were placed.

Read the full story on page 50 of Issue 14.