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January 2007

Trash baling technology reduces odor and leakage
Rail transport for trash offers opportunities to reduce traffic and GHG emissions

A proven European system for the containment of solid municipal waste (MSW) is being tested in the United States.

Should it be implemented across the nation, it could have positive benefits in terms of reducing the cost of transportation, storage and disposal of garbage, as well as reducing traffic on already congested highways and green house gas emissions, and utilizing trash as a potential fuel.

TransLoad America Inc. has just acquired new technology that compresses and hermetically seals garbage, eliminating leakage and the terrible odor associated with rotting trash.

“This technology does a lot more than eliminate nuisances associated with the garbage industry,” says Mike Wellman, executive vice president of TransLoad America. “It also reduces the environmental impact of waste processing, making it feasible and perhaps even desirable to have a processing station near a densely populated urban area, say, on the Island of Manhattan. It also increases the storage life for garbage before it goes to a landfill, making rail transport of bales safer and more cost effective way to transport garbage.”

The TLA-Bale Tech system utilizes a unique round baling technology and can produce bales that can range in size from slightly over one ton to about seven tons. These bales are first highly compressed, a process which effectively eliminates odor and leakage, and then shrink-wrapped and sealed in several layers of impermeable plastic film.

“These bales can be stored indefinitely without compromising their physical integrity at the transload, resource recovery, or disposal site, enabling more effective load management throughout the entire waste delivery and disposal system,” says Wellman.

A major beneficiary of the bale system is rail transportation. Tests have already been conducted by major western railroads, which have been well received. Further tests by east coast railroads will be conducted in the next few months.

“Rail transportation is the best management practice for remote landfill/long haul utilization,” says Wellman. “It is cost-effective and reliable. Each rail car replaces four to five long haul tractor-trailers, eliminating that truck traffic from the road and allowing the use of low-cost remote disposal sites that are rail served.

“Bailing maximizes logistic movement by rail, because it maximizes payload,” he adds. “We’re capable of getting approximately 100 tons per-rail car moved, and we eliminate the need to return and decontaminate heavy shipping containers, which is the current mode of rail transport.”

The system also has applications for the emerging industry of waste-to-power conversion.

“The wrapping can preserve the waste for as many as 5 to 10 years with no degradation of the integrity of the wrap and it maintains the BTU value,” says Wellman. “The bales can be stored and then taken out of inventory and put into waste energy applications as fuel stock.”

Major urban centers with well-developed rail and waste management infrastructure could easily employ the baling system to their advantage.

“The application would be in waste transfer stations, where waste would be delivered and then be baled and wrapped,” says Wellman. “For example, New York City and Los Angeles have committed themselves officially to moving waste by rail and TLA baling systems could be very advantageous to them.”

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