PAPER 03 1957 City REFUSE Disposal and Utilization


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PAPER 03 1957 City REFUSE Disposal and Utilization

  1. 1. The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health City Refuse Disposal and Utilization H.J.N. Hodgson The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health 1957; 77; 196 DOI: 10.1177/146642405707700419 The online version of this article can be found at: Published by: On behalf of: Royal Society for the Promotion of Health Additional services and information for The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health can be found at: Email Alerts: Subscriptions: Reprints: Permissions: Downloaded from by IGNACIO GARCIA MARTINEZ on November 26, 2007 © 1957 Royal Society for the Promotion of Health. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  2. 2. 196 CITY REFUSE DISPOSAL AND UTILIZATION Summary of an Inquiry by H. J. N. HODGSON, M.C.E., F.R.S.H., M.I.E.AUST., Engineer for Water and Sewage Treatment to the South Australian Government T-L HisBritain, Europe and America been published, is report, which has recently based on a study tour in Great during the months of 1954. summer It is not possible to generalize and very great care is needed in the choice of method for city refuse disposal (and utilization). The choice will depend largely upon the type of refuse, whether separation is to be practised, the inorganic content of the refuse, availability of markets for by-products and the prejudices of the local people. I-ENGLAND The aftermath of the war and immediate post-war years, with its controls and rationing, is clearing to give a picture of trends in city refuse handling. Separation plants appear to be facing an uncertain future, owing to the economic situation and the lack of co-operation of householders. (a) Separation Borough of Wembley (about 100,000 population) has a weekly collection of The general refuse (with clean paper kept separate), a collection of three times a week of kitchen waste from street communal bins and restaurants, and a collection of paper, etc., from business premises. The general waste is separated by magnet, screening and hand-picking. The salvaged items are sold and the residue is burned, although difficulty is experienced in the disposal of the clinker. The kitchen refuse is passed through rotary cookers, sterilized, and sold mainly, and with growing difficulty, as pig food. The 1953 costs are given as £60,000 for collection, £30,000 for disposal, less £15,000 for sales. Kitchen waste sales of £6,000 almost covered the costs for this part of the disposal end. The manpower situation is difficult with a fairly big turnover of men. This is a very well managed and operated plant, but it is considered unlikely that such plants will survive a long peace and unrestricted competition. (b) Disposal and/ or Utilization The three most discussed methods are incineration, controlled tipping and com- posting. Because of high costs, it is unlikely that further incineration plants will be built. Support for composting is in-the hands of a few whose figures are often suspect. Controlled tipping is the accepted method, and there appears little justification or sound argument for any other. Even bulk transport of refuse to suitable sites up to twenty miles distant can be done economically. Senior technical men at the Ministry of Housing and Local Government argue against composting (except in very special circumstances) on the grounds that the material is poor, with much useless inorganic matter, and that organic matter can be more easily obtained from normaL farming operations. The market is uncertain and &dquo; would grow more so if supplies increased. . Leeds-This city, which in 1952 was disposing of 53.2 per cent. of its refuse by separation and incineration, 6-6 per cent. by incineration, and 40-2 per cent. by con- trolled tipping, suffers with others in a big annual turnover of workmen, although it ’ is fairly well mechanized for controlled tipping with drag scoops and bulldozers. Bradford-Here controlled tipping is employed exclusively, with no separation other. than for clean paper. It is the home of controlled tipping, which is a classic and worthy of study by anyone engaged in this field. Success here is due to the soundness of the methods employed--care in lining up and levelling, the rapidity of tipping and sealing, the finishing of the banks and the general attention to all details, coupled with a feeling of pride by all concerned. The method of dealing with the refuse follows the best practice, and the resultant improvements in the city-car parks, Odsal Stadium (with its terraced mounds 80 feet high, seating 108,000 people), and school playing fields-lead one to the conclusion Downloaded from by IGNACIO GARCIA MARTINEZ on November 26, 2007 © 1957 Royal Society for the Promotion of Health. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  3. 3. 197 that, given these conditions, it would be difficult to imagine a better and more economical method of refuse disposal. Liverpool-In contrast to Bradford, controlled tipping at Liverpool is highly . mechanized, with draglines and bulldozers. Land reclamation schemes are pursued on riparian land. A very high standard is achieved and a similar conclusion is reached that at Bradford. to (c) The Use of Town Wastes in Agriculture The Report (June, 1954) of the National Resources (Technical) Committee appears to give very strong support to the Ministry’s policy in its opposition to composting, etc., and its general advocacy of controlled tipping. (d) Summary To summarize the position in England, it can be said that the evidence is over- whelmingly in favour of controlled tipping as generally the most satisfactory and economical method for the disposal of city refuse, and there appears to be no case for composting. II-S COTLAND The greater interest in Scotland in composting appears to be largely due to Wilson at Edinburgh and Wylie at Dumfries-both enthusiasts-and the officials of the Department of Health for Scotland appear favourably inclined towards composting. Edinburgh-Very briefly, refuse is handled by a twice-weekly kerbside collection of household refuse and a twice-weekly collection of kitchen and vegetable waste from communal street bins. The household refuse is dealt with as follows: fine dust and ashes, etc., are screened out (the latter being sold to industry as a low-grade fuel), the waste is then subjected to magnetic separation in conjunction with a picking belt for the recovery of rags, clean paper, bottles, etc. The remainder (about 30 per cent.) goes for incineration. There is a serious problem in Edinburgh owing to the absence of suitable sites for disposal tips, either for refuse or clinker after incineration. A pilot scheme for com- posting was examined, but the overall impression of this small unit, and its operation, was that it appeared completely rural in conception and very much out of place in a &dquo; big city. Possibly the new &dquo; Dano unit being installed may remove many of these criticisms and create a very different impression. Dumfries-There are three composting plants-at the Barony, Dalscone and Kirk- connel-in this county, under possibly the best known composting enthusiast in Scotland.. The picture of composting here is set against the historical background: an acute sewage sludge disposal problem which was the reason for composting being adopted. The drawbacks and difficulties of the process are appreciated, and, finally, one cannot but question whether you are &dquo; getting anywhere &dquo; by carting straw and grass from the farm, doing a lot of work on them, and then expecting to return them to the farm as a low-grade manure. This is not a contribution to the natural resources of the country, as presumably it would go back into the soil, anyway. Points such as this become doubly important when the question of the use of raw sewage sludge is challenged by health authorities. It should also be pointed out that the county received a substantial subsidy from the Government to build the plant at Kirkconnel, although this fact is masked by the funds being labelled &dquo; for rural sewerage scheme &dquo;. Summary . be said that while controlled tipping and incineration are still the methods It can generally used in Scotland, composting is of more interest in Scotland than in England. In the few small plants built, however, the methods of composting adopted are not impressive, and some of the practices, particularly that of the use of raw sewage sludge, Some of these practices would not be permitted by health are very objectionable. authorities in other countries. III-IRELAND A number of proposals to build composting plants in Ireland appear to have died in infancy, and the recent proposals for Dublin have been scrapped in favour of controlled tipping. Downloaded from by IGNACIO GARCIA MARTINEZ on November 26, 2007 © 1957 Royal Society for the Promotion of Health. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  4. 4. 198 IV-ST. HELIER, JERSEY for a composting plant has been given owing to such special circumstances Approval as the shortage of organic matter because of the absence of livestock and the fact that two crops a year are grown. The estimated cost of production is £4 10s. Od. a ton, ’ with a return of £7 10s. Od. a ton. V-FRANCE The general preference here, and in Switzerland, is for incineration, apparently influenced by the wish to generate power and heat. VI-HOLLAND . The picture of refuse disposal and/or utilization in Holland must be set against a background of a densely-populated (803 persons per square mile-and still increasing), essentially agricultural country, with almost half its area consisting of poor sandy soil and a people noted for their thriftiness. Its experience with composting goes back to the Middle Ages in its efforts to maintain soil fertility. , A Dutch town’s refuse is of poor quality because food wastes, vegetable matter, swill, etc., are not included with it. There are also fewer bottles (these being returned to the shops of origin) and much less ash (due to prevalence of central heating and closed stoves). Overall figures for the country show that 55 per cent. of the refuse is disposed of by tipping, 25 per cent. by incineration, and 20 per cent. processed as a manure. . At Wyster, in northern Holland, the refuse of 700,000 people of The Hague, Gron- ingen and Zanderrot, having been transported up to 100 miles by rail, is processed to produce a low-grade, rough compost. Wyster is in a sandy belt and needs rough compost to improve the soil’s physical characteristics. It is also isolated from any considerable population. The refuse is conveyed to the plant in closed railway vans of 130 cubic yards capacity with side opening doors, through which the refuse can be unloaded in 30 seconds. The refuse falls on to either side of a 20-feet high viaduct and is levelled, after which it is evenly sprinkled with water from a pond which receives the run-off from the compost heaps. The system prevents the loss of nutrients in the run-off water and probably inoculates the fresh refuse with the desired fermentation micro-organisms. There is a temperature rise (to about 160° F.), followed by a fall after a few months to about 130° F. During this period the heaps are turned. The refuse is then screened and disintegrated. That which passes the three-quarter-inch screen (about 80 per cent.) goes into trucks or barges for transport to the purchaser; the remainder, after the extraction of metals, is then ground and re-screened. The final residue is dumped, covered with a layer of finer material or sand, and used for the growing of vegetables. The compost from this plant is a bulky material of low fertilizer value, applied at the rate of about 16 tons per acre, usually once every four years. The plant at Schiedam, serving a population of 75,000, produces a better compost, which is used for vegetable growing and in glasshouses. This compost is finer and more homogeneous than from the Wyster plant, but the added work put into it does not improve its fertilizer value and it is still a low-grade material. I Summary they approach the problem realistically, they accept that only a low- In Holland grade product can be produced, the main use. of which is to condition poor soils. They do not spend too much money on production and they produce the compost in the where it is most needed. areas VII-DENMARK In contrast to Holland, there is not the demand for composted refuse owing to the large cattle population and balanced agricultural system. However, the well-known &dquo; Dano &dquo; plant was developed in this country, the most recent development being the &dquo; Dano Bio-Stabilizer &dquo;. Composting on a commercial scale is most impressive in Denmark, where it has been demonstrated that compost or stabilized refuse can be produced without nuisance Downloaded from by IGNACIO GARCIA MARTINEZ on November 26, 2007 © 1957 Royal Society for the Promotion of Health. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  5. 5. 199 and with a minimum of unpleasant hard labour. The only question, which is one of the most important, is cost, and it is difficult to see how such plants can compete with ’ controlled tipping. ~ VIII-GERMANY : Composting is not generally favoured here because of the anticipated marketing difficulties and a fear that it will not be economical. Hamburg has the sole remaining incineration plant. Most disposal at present is by tipping. At Baden Baden the refuse is composted with digested sewage sludge and there is little about the plant, which is tidy and well kept, that could be considered insanitary. A different picture is painted for Frankfurt-on-Main, where the refuse is taken to Tipping is completely uncontrolled, and a a huge tip in a secluded part of a forest. hill 100 feet high and several acres in extent is being built. The proposal is to build here a winter sports centre, but in the meantime the refuse lies uncovered, giving off odour and presenting an unsightly mess. &dquo; Totters &dquo;, who pay the city for the privilege, ’ do not improve the picture. IX-AMERICA . Generally speaking, incineration is used in the larger cities and controlled tipping There is no composting on a commercial scale. or sanitary landfill in the smaller ones. The use of kitchen grinders, by which means kitchen waste may be discharged with the sewage, is increasing, and the utilizing of wet garbage for pig food is also practised. San Francisco is one of the larger cities employing controlled tipping. Here, a large shallow reach of the sea is being reclaimed and two nearby hills are providing the covering. This successful project, which is in the hands of a contractor, is heavily mechanized, and its life seems almost indefinite. The reclaimed land is sold, as also are sites on the areas where the hills are being removed. At Berkeley, across the harbour, conditions are not so good, with the smoke of tip fires and odours causing complaints. This tip suffers from the disadvantage that there ’ is no nearby source of covering material. Kitchen Grinders (a) . The use of kitchen grinders in the home is growing in America: there is a conviction that the garbage bin can be eliminated and that a number of other public health benefits will result. In Jasper, Indiana (5,215 population), 75 per cent. of the population are served by kitchen grinders. In the city of Detroit, 1,700 homes are equipped with kitchen grinders, and a campaign to increase this number has been launched. In contrast, the city of New York prohibits the use of kitchen grinders because they have pollution and sewage disposal problems. Another development of long standing in America is the transport of wet garbage to the sewage disposal works, where is is treated with the sewage.. Even with the extended use of the kitchen grinder, however, there will always be the problem of dry refuse collection and disposal. Further, such extended use will affect composting, as it removes the most valuable part of this waste from the nutrient angle, although the removal of this putrescible matter will make composting operations easier from a nuisance aspect. ~ . (b) Composting The only composting plant visited was the idle one at Bayshore, Long Island, New York, but discussions were held with men prominent in and interested in the matter of composting. Dr. M. S. Anderson, of the Agricultural Research Station, Maryland, expressed the view that the economics and the quantities are against the composting of city refuse for country or agricultural purposes, and that any compost which might be produced in America is of no significance in its possible effect on the country’s economy. Similar views were expressed by Mr. E. B. Besselievre, of the Dorr Co., New York. ’ _ Opinions of the Health, Education and Welfare Department, Washington, may be summarized as follows. The sorting of wastes and the utilization of garbage for pig feeding is declining, whilst the use of household grinders is increasing; the general tendency throughout America is towards controlled tipping, and it is very doubtful whether composting will make any appreciable headway. Similar opinions are held by the Engineering Editor of American City Magazine. Downloaded from by IGNACIO GARCIA MARTINEZ on November 26, 2007 © 1957 Royal Society for the Promotion of Health. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  6. 6. 200 Professor J. R. Snell, of Michigan, and Professor H. B. Gotaas, of California, are advocates of composting and are actively engaged on research. The big question is, however, whether composting, as a means of disposal and utilization of city refuse, be put sound economic basis. can on a , _ X-GENERAL CONCLUSIONS - The observations and opinions appear justified: following (1) The most sanitary method of disposing of the putrescible and objectionable portion of household refuse is by use of the kitchen grinder connected to a water-carriage system, although even here a dry refuse collection is also necessary. America leads the field in this development. (2) Controlled tipping is the most widely used and probably the most satis- factory method for refuse disposal at present in use. If properly controlled, such a method is generally less costly than any other and free from nuisance; it can often provide assets, in the form of reclaimed sites, playing fields, etc., and is free from unpleasant and unhygienic separation practices. (3) Incineration is on the decline, except in some cases where power genera- tion and heat recovery are of special importance. This decline is principally due to the high cost of installations. (4) Composting, although not widely accepted, is a possible alternative to present methods of disposal and a means of effecting some recovery from waste. Factors which appear to have retarded its more general use are: the large amount of uncompostable material in refuse; the need for considerable pre-separation- an unpleasant task; uncertain marketing of a relatively low-grade product; higher , costs than controlled tipping; and, finally, the incomplete knowledge of the fundamental requirements of the process. The use of raw sewage sludge in composting operations is very objectionable and it is likely that it would be banned in most enlightened countries. The report, which is in the Society’s Library, is accompanied by fourteen appendices, over 50 photographs and a number of maps and diagrams. ACCIDENTS IN THE HOME : UNPROTECTED FIRES A reminder of the importance of providing fixtures to hold fireguards in position has been sent to local authorities by the Minister of Housing and Local Government in his Circular No. 13/57. Although few local authorities have installed the fixtures in their council houses, surveys have shown that at least 50 per cent. of burning accidents in the home are caused by unprotected fires. The British Standards Institution have recently produced a specification (No. 2788, price 2s. 6d.) for fireguards, incorporating fixing hooks, for open fires. The cost of providing a suitable fixture in the wall or fire surround is small, and the Ministry understand that various models and sizes of fireguards which comply with the new specification are becoming available. In view of the appalling consequences, in pain, disfigurement, and death, that can result from lack of adequate precautions, the Minister feels sure that councils will think it right to take prompt and effective action, and he suggests that councils should ask their staff when visiting tenants to bring the danger to their notice, and to advise them on fireguards. The Minister will be prepared to give any necessary approval to councils who decide to sell fireguards to their tenants and he feels that gas and electricity boards and contracting firms will do their best to supply suitable guards, for existing electric, oil and gas heaters that do not already have them fitted. NEW PITCH FIBRE PIPE ASSOCIATION The formation has recently been announced of the Pitch Fibre Pipe Association of Great Britain. It aims to promote and extend the use of British pitch fibre pipes in this country and overseas, and to make known their special charactenstics and qualities, uses and techniques of installation. It also proposes to encourage standardization in pipe sizes, jointing methods, etc., and to maintain the best standards of quality. The founder members of the Association are the Key Engineering Co., Ltd., Brookgate Industries, Ltd., Limehouse Paperboard Mills, Ltd., and Union Fibre Pipes (Gt. Britain), Ltd. Mr. J. E. Ordish has been elected Chairman. The address of the Secretary, Mr. C. J. Thorne, o.B.E., is 27, Chancery . Lane, London, W.C.2. - Downloaded from by IGNACIO GARCIA MARTINEZ on November 26, 2007 © 1957 Royal Society for the Promotion of Health. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.