|By NANCY VORIS
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — As Kermit the Frog might say, it’s not easy being green – especially for industries with a reputation of being environmentally unfriendly.
But South Side Landfill, Inc. of Indianapolis defies those claims and has become an environmental champion. Tagged by the EPA in 1989 because of industrial waste contamination, the 312-acre landfill has since cleaned up its act and gone the extra mile.
The site was a tour stop last week during the National Food and Energy Council’s annual meeting. South Side Landfill is one component of a medley of businesses at the site including Best Way Disposal, Crossroads Greenhouse, Buffer Park Golf Course and the Indianapolis Stockyards. All are owned by Balkema Brothers Inc. of Michigan.
Methane gas produced by decomposing waste at a landfill has traditionally been burned off into the atmosphere.
But a growing number of landfills are tapping into methane as an alternative fuel source to sell to customers or for their own use.
South Side Landfill traps the methane gas and pipes it next door to the six-acre, state-of-the-art Crossroads Greenhouse for heating and backup generation, lowering the costs of producing 100,000 bedding plants, 30,000 hanging baskets and 300,000 poinsettias each year.
“It saves the greenhouse 100 gallons an hour on fuel oil,” said Derek Young, tour director and an accountant for the landfill. “That brings down the cost of plants for consumers.”
The greenhouse uses only about 10 percent of the available methane gas from the landfill. It is the largest methane-operated greenhouse in the country.
The gas is also piped to nearby Rolls-Royce Allison, which uses methane to lower the plant’s energy bill by about 10 percent. The company has a 10-year contract to purchase methane gas from the landfill.
After the landfill has piped methane to its paying customer and the greenhouse, any remaining fuel is used in the landfill’s shop for motorized pumping systems. In total, the three entities use about 100,000 psi units per hour, Young said.
South Side Landfill took the environmental challenge of cleaning up their site one step further. The built Buffer Park Golf Course on the EPA-mandated buffer zone, installing a 3,500-yard public golf course in 1999.
The National Food and Energy Council is a nonprofit association of electric utilities, rural electric cooperatives, public power districts, and suppliers of electrical and utility equipment.
“Basically, we help our members provide information and training on electric safety, energy efficiency and new technology to their rural customers who produce, process and market food and fiber,” said Richard Hiatt, NFEC president and executive manager.
This farm news was published in the May 3, 2006 issue of Farm World.