While working out of our Raleigh office yesterday yesterday I had lunch with Vance Moore of the engineering firm, Garrett & Moore. Vance is one of the many outstanding environmental engineers I’ve had the privilege of working with on matters related to landfills and solid waste.
One of Vance’s expertises is conducting financial projections of the future cost of waste disposal and storage. These projections require deep understandings of the mechanics of waste handling, the regulatory maze overlay, and financial accounting. How much shall a company or city set aside now to maintain permanently a landfill that is capped and has no more income to cover the costs of monitoring wells, leachate removal, etc.?
But the most interesting part of our discussion concerned the many ideas and technologies and startups now moving into the solid waste industry where everybody is looking for a silver bullet that will solve, once and for all, some aspect of the many-headed hydra created by consumption and waste generation.
One of the companies Vance told me about was Arrowbio. Arrowbio takes municipal solid waste into a facility with a small footprint where it separates the waste into three streams using gravity and water. Plastics float to the top, metals, glass and textiles sink to the bottom, and organics float in the middle.
According to the company’s claims, 90% of all recoverable waste is removed, diverting up to 9,000 trucks from landfill disposal in one community’s calculations. The organic waste is recycled for soil enrichment, farming, etc.
I know nothing about this company other than what Vance told me and what I found on its website. I use it as yet one more example of technology stepping in to create solutions when we have the financial resources and broader community commitment.