A video tour of the La Crosse County Landfill showcases programs that lead to the reuse or recycling of items in ways that both help the environment and prolong the life of the facility.
Since 2016, the La Crosse County Solid Waste Department has used a local partnership to divert around 10,000 mattresses and box springs from the county landfill for reuse.
It’s one of several innovative programs developed by the Department, in conjunction with partnering counties and local businesses, to reuse or recycle materials that demonstrates a commitment to environmental stewardship. Another example is the materials reuse room, managed by the Household Hazardous Materials (HHM) Program, where anyone can pick up various cleaning products, paint, and other usable items free of charge. Although the items were originally targeted for disposal, they can now find new purpose. Over 75% of the hazardous materials received by HHM are reused, recycled, or utilized as an industrial fuel.
“Our goal is for the landfill to be a last resource,” explains Jadd Stilwell, Director of the La Crosse County Solid Waste Department.
Other initiatives at the facility that follow that principal include:
-Tires dropped off at the landfill are sent to a company that processes them for reuse for various items, including chips around playground equipment.
-Concrete and blacktop waste are ground up and used in road construction.
-Clean shingles are processed for reuse in road subbase or hot mix asphalt.
By diverting materials from the landfill that can be reused or recycled, these programs save valuable space within the landfill.
It is not just items dropped off that find reuse. Byproducts of landfilling can be converted into energy. In 2011, the Solid Waste Department partnered with Gundersen’s Envision team to build a 1.8-mile pipeline from the landfill to the Gundersen’s Onalaska Clinic. The pipeline transports methane gas, collected from the landfill, that’s used for heating, cooling, and energy production at the clinic.
The Department’s oldest partnership is with Xcel Energy. Around 75,000 tons of residential waste are diverted annually from the landfill to Xcel’s French Island Facility. Here the waste is processed into fuel to create energy that powers around 10,000 local homes. Without this vital partnership, the landfill’s lifespan would be reduced by as much as 40% according to Jackie Davis, the department’s Operations Technician.
"A defining value of this facility is being good environmental stewards," says Davis. "We want this area to be good now, we want it to be good 10 years from now, we want it to be good 100 years from now for future generations."
Eventually, the landfill will become a green space for public recreation, sections of the site are already being prepared for this by installation of handicap accessible trails, with a bridge, boardwalk, and other features.
Before COVID-19, the facility, which is located at 3200 Berlin Drive, La Crosse WI, hosted regular facility tours for community and school groups, but visits have been paused during the pandemic. That prompted the Department to develop a video that gives an overview of the Solid Waste Department and an aerial tour of the landfill. Watch the video here: https://player.vimeo.com/video/480079272.