R3 signs deal that offers landfill alternative

R3 Environmental, a waste resource management company, has signed an agreement with New Hanover County, North Carolina, to build a “zero waste” trash system. It is the first of its kind in the nation and will not only divert trash from the landfill, but mine the existing landfill and reclaim the land.

The new facility will sort the county’s trash, filter recyclables and convert the remaining organic matter into reusable biomass fuel. This is a new technology for the United States, but much of it is common in many places around the world. In many countries, space limitations require innovative solutions and view trash as a resource.

There is resistance to change. Waste management companies have built business models and revenue streams based on available space in landfills. Some companies may see this technology as a business threat. Turning waste into a resource may decrease the demand for landfills.

R3 signed a 15 year contract and has begun the 90 day transition period to assume control of the New Hanover County landfill and trash incinerator. Construction of the high-tech facility is scheduled to begin in early 2011 and be fully operational by 2012.