I have been sitting on this story for awhile (it came out in May 2009) about a Kent County landfill being tapped for its methane gases and converting them to electricity to power area homes. This reminded me of a local company taking advantage of a landfill’s gases. Zeeland Farm Services uses methane gas from nearby Autumn Hills (what a beautiful name, good job marketing) landfill to power its operations. Zeeland Farm Services is synonymous with soybeans – anything soybean, just look at their website , they even make a great cooking oil called Zoye (this is one product which I actually have tried, though I am unsure how to pronounce it – ZOIL, Zoee, Zo-YE).
In 2005 ZFS, North American National Resources (owns the compression station), and Waste Management (owns the landfill) worked together to build a “landfill gas pipeline/compression station project that carries methane gas from the Autumn Hills Landfill to the ZFS soybean processing plant over six miles to the Northwest”. Looks like some money exchanged hands since ZFS quoted that payback for the project is in the 6-10 year range. This arrangement most likely is cheaper than having to pay for electricity, not to mention they are getting plenty of good public relations (here and here) with the whole green and sustainability movement going on. Previous to this pipeline being built, the methane was just burned off and wasted, and now looking at some of the environmental impact statistics that ZFS produced what an impressive change. Couple that with the fact that some of ZFS fleet of trucks runs on biodiesels you have an local area company doing some pretty progressive environmental initiatives. Well done.
I wonder how many landfill have these sorts of agreements with companies and if this will be a continuing trend going further. To me it would seem like a no brainer to partner up with local companies and work out an agreement, which makes both of you look good in the public eye and which would earn money (or save money after payback) for a previously wasted asset. Maybe there just are not enough businesses nearby landfills, in my opinion it would stink to be close to one.