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West Jordan Journal

When the landfill is full, where will your garbage go?

May 07, 2018 02:24PM ● By City Journals Staff

Bulldozer moving trash at the Trans-Jordan Landfill. (Dave Newton/courtesy)

By Erin Dixon | [email protected]

You park the garbage can at the curb, and the massive truck comes to whisk away the trash. Where does it go from there? Simply, to the local landfill. But in the future, collecting and dumping may not be so simple.

Where does the garbage go now?

West Jordan trash, as well as six other neighboring cities, is deposited at the Trans-Jordan landfill. The Trans-Jordan Director, Mark Hooyer, and Public Education Coordinator Lesha Earl, presented a glimpse into the future to the West Jordan City Council on April 11.

Trans-Jordan is made up of seven-member cities that own the landfill, including West Jordan, Sandy, Draper, Riverton, Herriman, Murray and Midvale. Fifty-five percent of the trash delivered to this landfill is from the curbside pickup; the remaining 45 percent comes from commercial or public dumping.

Garbage deposits are increasing

The amount of deposits has been increasing slowly for years. From West Jordan alone, the curbside trash collection between 2016 and 2017 increased from 36,514 to 38,514, an increase of 5.2 percent. Green waste has also increased by 4.3 percent.

What has caused the increase of trash from West Jordan? “Is that because you’re adding all these new households in West Jordan? Not really. I think your growth is primarily coming from just people are buying more. These are economic good times; there’s more waste at the curb,” Trans-Jordan Director Mark Hooyer said. When we buy more goods, there is more potential for trash when we are done with the purchases.

The amount of garbage deposited into the landfill has increased by 92,340 tons from 2012 to 2018, which is 34 percent annually. At the current rate, the Trans-Jordan has less than 14 years left to fill to capacity. At that point, the seven cities will need to look for a different location to dispose of their trash.

The landfill collection continues to grow this year, and it is not showing any signs of slowing.

“We’re having a record year again this year,” Hooyer said. “We’ve eclipsed the nine months of our current fiscal year. We’ve totally blown our previous waste records out of the water all but two of those months.”

What does the future hold?

Trans-Jordan board member and former West Jordan Mayor Dave Newton also attended the meeting. 

“We’ve created a separate entity called NUERA,” he said. “It stands for Northern Utah Environmental Resource Association. And that is made up of six landfills through northern Utah. Four of those landfills, including Trans-Jordan, purchased the Bayview Landfill from Southern Utah County solid waste district. [W]hen this landfill up here fills up, we have a place to go to take our garbage.”  

Though there is ample space for our trash a decade and a half in the future, this change will come at considerable cost. The current cost to the public for curbside waste is about $12 per ton. The Bayview Landfill is 45 miles to the south of the current landfill.

“That’s too far for the city dump trucks to go,” Hooyer said. “So, we’ll be transferring somewhere in the Trans-Jordan area. What are the costs of that? To start with, that cost to drive that down there is $12 a ton.”

On top of the cost it takes to transport the waste from your curbside, there will be a charge to operate the transfer station as well as a fee charged at the new landfill. All of these costs are simply to run the machinery and pay the employees who are managing the waste.

“Just that cost right there is $34.50 a ton for your waste,” Hooyer said. “This is coming down the road in the future so keep that in mind.”

Increase in costs

The current cost of dumping at the landfill is $15 a ton for curbside pickup, while commercial and individual cost is $29 a ton. That rate is about to rise to $16 per ton for residents and $31 per ton for commercial. This increase is marginal per household however,; it amounts to $0.20 per household per month. This is still the lowest rate locally and nationally. The two neighboring landfills charge over $30 a ton for residents, and the national average collection rates average around $50 a ton.

Before another 15 years pass the cost of trash collection will increase for West Jordan. It remains to be seen exactly how much city officials will need to spend and how soon changes will be necessary for simply disposing of the residents’ waste.