Murfreesboro can work with WastAway to convert waste into fuel

  • WastAway manufactures biomass fuel that can replace coal or wood
  • Murfreesboro official describes WastAway as “state of the art”
  • The city paid $55,000 for the WastAway study
  • WastAway will present a fuel product to the Tennessee Valley Authority

The Murfreesboro Trash Dump at Middle Point Landfill can be replaced by converting the trash into a WastAway fuel source.

Instead of burying trash for free at Rutherford County’s private landfill, Murfreesboro officials could consider building an estimated $45 million WastAway warehouse to dump trash at a Butler Road location in an industrial area on the side. south of the city.

Four current Murfreesboro City Council members unanimously agreed Wednesday, April 13, to tell staff to continue pursuing the possible arrangement with WastAway, a Morrison-based company in Warren County.

“We are strongly against Middle Point,” Mayor Shane McFarland said.

McFarland and other city officials complained about odors from the Middle Point landfill, near the northern edge of Murfreesboro.

Operation WastAway will have “no smell,” Murfreesboro City Assistant Manager Darren Gore told the council.

The mayor and council are also opposing a proposed 99-acre expansion of the landfill which city officials say will be full by July 1, 2026.

Many others have expressed environmental concerns about a landfill near the Stones River, the source of drinking water for the city and much of Rutherford County. The Middle Point Landfill is located near East Jefferson Pike and US Highway 231 North (Lebanon Road) in the Walter Hill community of the county.

Despite voting to proceed with the arrangement, Murfreesboro City Councilman Kirt Wade advised staff and other elected officials present that they should be careful when considering the WastAway proposal to prevent the city from wasting $45-50 million on a failed project.

“I don’t want us to be a guinea pig,” Wade said.

McFarland and fellow board members Shawn Wright and Rick LaLance also supported the potential deal with WastAway.

“This is the first step for Murfreesboro to have solid waste independence from the Middle Point landfill or any other landfill for that matter,” McFarland said in a press release after the meeting. .

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McFarland said the city wants to work with leaders in Smyrna, La Vergne and Rutherford County to seek a lasting solution to solid waste.

“I hope our work with WastAway can set the standard for a regional solution that others can adopt,” McFarland said.

Murfreesboro Vice Mayor Madelyn Scales Harris was at the meeting but left before the vote on the WastAway proposal. Fellow board members Bill Shacklett and Ronnie Martin were absent. .

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How WastAway works

This 2015 DNJ file photo shows a WastAway employee using a small bulldozer picking up discarded trash at Morrison's warehouse before transferring the trash to the area where metals are separated for recycling.

WastAway uses conveyor belts and magnets to sort metals and plastics, and converts the remaining waste into a fluffy product that can be used as a fuel source that is an acceptable alternative to using coal or wood in boilers , Gore told the board.

The WastAway end product has much cleaner emissions and a lower carbon footprint than coal, other fossil fuels and landfills that damage the environment and cause global warming, Gore suggested.

An estimated 90% of waste can be converted to WastAway SE3 biomass fuel for boilers, Gore said.

“We were very drawn to that,” Gore said. “I think it’s avant-garde.”

The city paid $55,000 for the WastAway study

Last July, the city concluded a $55,000 feasibility study with WastAway to determine if a buyer for Murfreesboro’s waste fuel source was possible.

Gore told the board that WastAway obtained a letter of intent from Argos Cement on April 12 to enter into a 10-year agreement. Argos would pay $57 a ton for biomass fuel to be used at a plant in Calera, Alabama, in the Birmingham area.

Calera is 226 miles from Murfreesboro, so that price may provide little net revenue after hauling, according to another April 12 letter sent to Gore by Mark S. Brown, WastAway’s general manager.

“But it does give us a viable outlet for fuel that is ready to sign on the dotted line,” Brown said in his letter.

WastAway will present a fuel product to the Tennessee Valley Authority

Brown’s letter also said WastAway was meeting with Tennessee Valley Authority staff Thursday, April 14, to discuss VAT using the Murfreesboro-produced SE3. The solid waste company plans to sue other potential buyers of the fuel source, Brown said.

The WastAway arrangement could also replace the city’s previous plans to build a solid waste transfer station on Butler Drive where trash would be dropped off before being transported to an out-of-county landfill.

The city sued a transfer station because Middle Point is expected to close within five years.

The transfer station operation would be much more expensive than WastAway, Gore said.

Contact reporter Scott Broden with news tips and questions by emailing [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ScottBroden.

By the Numbers: Middle Point Landfill

  • Existing landfill size: 207.3 acres
  • Murfreesboro officials estimate for the landfill to be full: July 1, 2026
  • State Allowed Cubic Yards of Waste Allowed to Landfill: Nearly 38.8 million
  • Expansion proposed by landfill owners, Republic Services: 99.45 acres
  • Proposed additional cubic yards of waste if expansion is permitted: 32 million
  • Percent increase in cubic yards of waste if expansion is allowed: 82.5

Sources: Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Murfreesboro Deputy City Manager Darren Gore