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Kent County breaks ground on what could be its last landfill – MLIVE

May 16, 2023

County officials announced May 3 they had begun construction on the final landfill cell at the South Kent Landfill in Byron Township near the Allegan County border.

The cell, which is a waste-holding unit within the larger landfill property, will occupy the last 6 acres of the 105 acres permitted for the municipal solid waste landfill.

“We are working hard to achieve our goals to divert landfill waste and create a community where we all reduce, reuse, repair, repurpose and recycle in order to protect our environment,” said Dar Baas, director of the Kent County Department of Public Works.

“Breaking ground on the final piece of the South Kent Landfill is likely the last time the Board of Public Works will need to make the decision to construct more landfill, which is exciting.”

With the new cell, the landfill is expected to reach capacity in 2029. The landfill takes in about 306,000 tons of waste each year in addition to ash from the county’s Waste-to-Energy trash incinerator. It is the only active landfill in Kent County.

The landfill has taken in nearly 8 million tons of waste since 1987. It opened in 1982.

The price tag for the construction is roughly $5 million, which includes excavation, liner placement, installation of a leachate collection system and more.

The construction comes as the Kent County Board of Public Works next month will review a final project development agreement with Canada-based Anaergia for a mixed waste processing facility and sustainable business park that could see the county diverting up to 65% of received waste from the landfill.

The diversion number could go even higher if the county is successful in attracting other tenants to the site who would either divert and process waste or turn processed waste and recyclables into new products.

Kent County DPW has a goal to divert 90% of the county’s trash from landfills by 2030.

Estimated at a cost of roughly $350 million, with Kent County paying about $70 million of that, the new waste processing facility and sustainable business park would handle 400,000 tons of garbage a year, as well as 30,000 tons of recyclables, to produce renewable natural gas, fertilizer and recyclable commodities.

The waste processing facility would be called the Kent County Bioenergy Facility, and it would be a public-private partnership between Kent County DPW and Anaergia.

More concrete estimates of the project costs will be presented to the Kent County DPW board next month. The business park would be located on about 250 acres of vacant land straddling the Kent-Allegan county line just south of the South Kent Landfill.

“The sustainable business park offers our community tremendous opportunities for job creation, innovation, new research and generating renewable energy,” Baas said. “This will move us much closer to achieving our landfill diversion goals, protecting our natural resources and the quality of our water.”

If approved by the Kent County DPW board and the Kent County Board of Commissioners, the Bioenergy Facility could be operational in 2026.

Even with the Bionenergy Facility and Waste-to-Energy Facility, the county would still have to landfill some waste each year.

After the South Kent Landfill is expected to close in 2029, county officials say the waste would likely be landfilled in other, still operational private landfills in neighboring counties.

Kent County DPW currently oversees three closed landfills in Sparta, Kentwood and Plainfield Township.

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