Thursday, September 18, 2008

W2E competition: Covanta, Wheelabrator and others

The Herald's Josh Morgan is reporting on the trash disposal facility.

For my part, I'm trying to do my homework. As I mentioned in a previous post, at a Waste to Energy plant (W2E), our garbage is effectively a fuel. And as a fuel that generates electricity, there are a lot of people who would love to get their hands on our garbage as a consistent source of fuel. But there's a hitch.

CT has six W2E plants. And all of them would like to have a consistent source of garbage, such as a municipality with town pickup. But not all of them are as close as Wallingford. So I collected some numbers and ran them.

Key data:

Cheshire currently generates approx. 8200 tons of waste per year.

1 truck carries 8 - 16 tons of waste per load, but 11 tons is a common weight.

Alternatively, larger trucks carry 20 tons but need a transfer station.

3 people per truck**

5 miles / gallon

So if you use those facts and add a few assumptions:

Wheelabrator^ in Bridgeport has capacity on July 1, 2010

Bridgeport is a 45 minute drive from Cheshire

One handler costs $50,000 per year in compensation

Vehicle wear and tear equals the cost of fuel

Then you come to an additional cost per year of approximately $200,000 (very ballpark)

So while I had been assuming that "trash disposal" or "tipping" services were almost non-existent, I've made some phone calls and now know that's not the case. There is competition in CT. Or we could even ship out-of-state. And that's a good thing for Cheshire.

Tim White

* A transfer station would cost money and have significant siting issues. Keep in mind, AJs existing transfer station handles recyclables and construction materials... but is not permitted for trash.
** Automated trucks use fewer staff, but have a significant startup cost. And the focus of this post is on the disposal (not hauling) services.
^ Wheelabrator is a competitor of Covanta. Both operate W2E plants in CT.
^^ I'm ignoring rush hour traffic for purposes of this example.

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