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Top: High Point landfill superintendent Steve Pendry shows some of the difficult-to-compact cotton batting the landfill regularly takes in. Bottom: At day's end, the landfill will use tarps rather than fill dirt to top the waste, conserving space. Photos: Terex|Trashmaster
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More than 760 PLI force is exerted by the 115,000-pound Trashmaster 390.

High Point, N.C., and its municipally operated landfill are somewhat of an anomaly. Sandwiched between and less than 20 miles away from Greensboro and Winston-Salem, both at least twice its population, you might expect High Point to fall into obscurity and be over-shadowed by the larger cities. And it would defy expectation to see one—let alone three—massive, 100,000-pound landfill compactors being used on a regular basis to compact the city's waste stream.

High Point, however, is far from obscure, since it is the hotbed of activity for the state's home furnishings and textile industries. Every April and October, the city earns the right to be called No. 1 in the home furnishings industry with the semi-annual High Point Market. This event brings more than 2500 exhibitors and more than 75,000 people from all over the world to the area, nearly doubling the city's population.

Then, every January and July, the city plays host to Showtime, a semi-annual fabric market. Produced by the High Point-based International Textile Market Association, the show brings in thousands of visitors and is acclaimed internationally for having the most thorough fabric presentations in the Western Hemisphere.

A Difficult Waste Stream

While being the epicenter for the furniture and textile industries delivers a boon to the local economy, the related events also provide a significant spike in the waste stream. Add to these fluctuations the fact that the city is home to several furniture manufacturers, which contribute significantly to the amount of material taken in at the city-owned landfill. “A high percentage of the nearly 650 tons of waste we accept every day comes from the furniture manufacturers,” said Steve Pendry, landfill superintendent for the High Point landfill. “Much of this material, like the cotton batting manufacturing residue and discarded broken metal springs, is very difficult to compress.”

It takes a great deal of management to effectively blend the furniture refuse with the general waste stream. One tactic that Pendry uses is to time the waste flow from the furniture manufacturers' haulers. “We try to have these trucks here first thing in the morning,” said Pendry. “This gives the landfill operators and compactors the needed time to shred and blend the more difficult-to-compact batting and springs with the general waste, offering tighter compaction.”

In addition to helping to maximize space use, regulating the furniture manufacturers' waste flow serves a more practical purpose. With a shortage of fill dirt available to the landfill, it uses several 50x100-foot tarps for daily covering. With a $2500 replacement value per tarp, Pendry tries to maximize the service life of the tarps. Thoroughly blending the broken springs with the general waste reduces the chance of ripping the tarps, which shortens the life span.

Using the tarps rather than fill dirt as a daily topping allows the High Point landfill to reap a critical side benefit. Randy Vaughn, a supervisor at the High Point Landfill, said, “The tarps help us to conserve our valuable landfill space by not requiring us to spread a layer of fill dirt over the active daily portion of the landfill every evening.”

Maximum Compaction

When it comes to landfilling the refuse, Pendry, with his 24 years of experience with the city of High Point, has seen a lot of changes in landfill technology. From grinding and baling to recycling, the landfill has tried it, all with varying degrees of success. And because of the difficulty of obtaining permits for a landfill today, Pendry knows that it is crucial to get the most use out of every cubic foot of available landfill space.

That is why the landfill no longer uses baling as a method for waste compaction and disposal. ‘“With the bales, we were getting about 1100 pounds per cubic yard, but with our Terex 390 Trashmaster compactors, we achieve 1400 pounds per cubic yard,” said Pendry. “Three hundred pounds per cubic yard may not sound like much, but over a year's time, it is a considerable space savings.”

Space savings is the main reason why the landfill recently has come to rely on the massive Terex|Trashmaster 390. The landfill currently operates three such compactors, one that dates back several years to when the compactor carried the Rex brand name.

Pendry said that no matter what brand of compactor is used, the first several inches of new material are only blended and compressed on the first pass. Compaction really takes place below this level and after the first pass. “With more than 100,000 pounds of weight, we get a lot of compressive and compactive force out of our 390s,” he said.