The Ulster County Legislature unanimously approved a 10-year local solid waste management plan,which calls for the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency to review waste diversion strategies and alternative ways to approach the goal of zero waste in Ulster County. The plan includes looking at the creation of a new local landfill. Currently the 130,000 or so tons of waste Ulster generates annually travels four hours to Seneca Meadows landfill in Waterloo, New York, over 200 miles away. The resolution states that the continued availability at the Seneca Meadows landfill is “uncertain” and has been “relatively expensive and damaging to the environment.”
The engineering firm Cornerstone assisted the county on the plan. It said a local landfill would “help to bring stabilization of transportation and disposal costs to the agency.” It would come with decreased trucking costs and lower fuel consumption, leading to an immediate cost savings. According to Cornerstone, constructing a landfill could cost as much as $40 million, with expenses including property acquisition, design, construction and maintenance. In recent years, the county has tentatively looked at possible sites. It identified 100 parcels of land as potential properties within Ulster County, but only 73 were evaluated.
A local landfill, while the most likely to draw the interest of residents (particularly those near potential sites), isn’t the only aspect of the plan. It also highlights other alternatives like different waste export options, better use of composting, creating energy from waste, using thermal processes, and increased recycling.