Solid Waste & Recycling Magazine

Feature

Ground Hog Day

Collecting waste materials below ground has technical advantages to above-ground systems. As urban centres densify, the large-capacity and small-surface footprint of underground collection units make them a logical choice. The large capacity of...


Collecting waste materials below ground has technical advantages to above-ground systems. As urban centres densify, the large-capacity and small-surface footprint of underground collection units make them a logical choice. The large capacity of such units is especially helpful with recyclable materials because of their lack of natural compaction. Underground waste-collection systems are solving many of the inherent complications – such as odours and wildlife – related to collecting food matter.

However, until recently, liquids remained a problem with underground collection units, as the only option available was a bag-style unit, in which a canvas bag of waste is collected inside a stationary hard-shelled container and lifted out for emptying. With this design, liquids collect in the bottom and need to be pumped out regularly.

Municipalities and companies that piloted the underground waste-collection systems requested design advancements to address their concerns. Some companies want consistency in their systems across different jurisdictions and, in some cases, the country. Municipalities want the flexibility to be able to tender contracts to different competing collection companies. Many service providers don’t have the special equipment required to empty bag-style units, and have been slow to acquire it.

As a result, the front-loading Ground-hog was developed. Its arms are compatible with any front-end loading waste truck, and the hard-sided Ground-hog container is sealed so that liquid is removed each time the unit is emptied.

The front-loading Ground-hog system has been well received by municipalities, residents, and haulers in Quebec since it was introduced two years ago. In addition to the conventional bins, some service providers in Quebec (and more recently Ontario) now offer the Ground-hog unit directly to customers, allowing users to pick the option that best suits their situation.

The 6.5 cubic yard Ground-hog is made of granite grey rotationally moulded polyethylene. Units are completely trimmed and reinforced with grey powder-coated steel. The structural steel reinforcement of the unit is then connected to the lifting arms, giving the units the exceptional strength needed to last years of being lifted by the front-end trucks.

The visible aboveground portion is 4′ with 6’6” below ground. The lid height is convenience for users and the amount below ground keeps the waste cool, thus retarding the growth of odour-forming microorganisms. Using nature to regulate the temperature and gravity to assist with compaction means allows the system to remain low tech and almost maintenance free.

Darlene Hartung is the Ontario sales representative for Ground-Hog in Listowel, Ontario. Contact Darlene at d.hartung@ecoloxia.ca


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