REFUSE AND GARBAGE DISPOSAL-A GENERAL SURVEY. LouiJs L. TRIBus, Consulting Engineer. ANew York City. FOREWORD. troy disease and nuisance producing SMALL municipalities are wont elements. to consider the collection and (d) disposal of resultant products disposal of household, street in healthful manner. and nuisance producing light manu- FINANCIAL AND OPERATIVE. facturing wastes, as an evil to be en- dured, and with a "hold your nose" (e) ownership of receptacles. attitude-gather the material in a more (f) municipal or private collection. or less desultory and unsanitary man- (g) lengths of hauling routes. ner and get rid of it in some way or (h) treatment plants. other, without regard to efficiency or (i) management. economy. Many of these factors bear upon Large communities usually have each other in such fashion that choice more attractive or more popular pro- of some particular method may cause jects that take public attention, so change in others. It is just because act towards this essential municipal of such effects, that the subject for function, with rather less considera- any given place, must be studied with tion than even that given elsewhere. unbiased mind after securing compre- When the quantities are large hensive knowledge of conditions. enough, longer visioned corporations The agent of a special furnace or are permitted to reap a harvest from process, or some particular kind of the money making part of the prob- collection device can not dissociate lem, while the city burdens itself with himself sufficiently from it, to give abnormal and too often unnoticed the most intelligent study to and expense for collection and delivery. trustworthy advice upon the main There is but one real side to the question. subject, i. e.-good business, though Consequently, those must be looked the one usually overlooked. It may to for opinion, who to good judgment be divided into two main characteris- and common sense, have added care- tics; viz., Sanitary and Financial; ful investigation and actual practice. with further sub-divisions as the prob- The physician-"health officer" lems are studied. will recognize the evils due to unsani- tary methods and the advantages ac- SANITARY. cruing from a well solved problem; (a) nature and care of receptacles. the city engineer accustomed to a nice (b) frequency and method of col- balance of cut and fill in his street lection. grades and economical disposition of (c) treatment of collections to des- materials for strength and permanence 307 1808 The American Journal of Public Health in his plans, with an eye even to the ing to fit themselves for decision and esthetic and artistic, does not usually action. have the actual experience necessary It is impossible however, for offi- to wise decision in waste disposal cials, having other regular duties of cases. importance, to give such time and at- The city manager, with his charts tention as shall enable the preparation and diagrams, and arrangement of of the basic plan in so intelligent a working forces, and willingness to take manner as to produce final results of expert advice on technical matters is efficiency and economy. rather closer to the heart of the subject, Frequently appears the item that for, if worthy of his position, he is con- Jonestown, Smithlake, Brownsbury or stantly studying to maintain a right some other well known place, has balance between the different parts of entered into contract for a garbage his work, scientific, practical and incinerator, or a reduction plant, with financial. glory to the officials in charge and It may safely be stated that neither profit to the sales agent, but in the in the United States or abroad have unfortunate ignorance of the tax- the problems been solved completely in payers, with continuing annual waste all their features in any one given city. of their money. Some have reached economy, con- Not necessarily waste, so far as the venience and sanitary success in one plant's operations go, but waste due or more characteristics, but have to a lack of harmony between collec- failed in others. At first thought one tion and disposal. might say, why not take the different A few are studying the combined features that have been successful in problems and may give good account various places and combine them into in results, but until the public is edu- a complete success for some particular cated up to its own interests, so long city. will failures continue to develop,though That is just what numberless cities they are not often made public by the have atvtempted to do, following the unfortunate community, which fre- reports of various officials upon their quently is ignorant even of the actual junketing trips of investigation and fact of failure. the accumulation of reports, sugges- tions, plans, proposals, etc., from all SANITARY. kinds of sources. (a) Nature and care of receptacles. Then the ruling bodies, by that time Decrepit coal scuttles, wooden soap well saturated with information (bio- boxes, battered and leaky wash boilers, logical and financial hash), decide on newspapers, galvanized iron pails, a scheme, and one more economic cans with or without covers, and crime is launched. waterproofed tough paper bags, all Often sincere are the men who thus are found in service. act, and none should decry their The generally accepted receptacle gathering of information and attempt- for garbage is the heavy galvanized Refuse and Garbage Disposal 1309 pail with close fitting cover, but in cities steel bodied water tight dump some few places, the paper bag is carts, with or without tarpaulin covers, added as the lining or actual container. to presumably hide the unpleasant con- If used with care it is an excellent tents and as some fondly hope, to one, but its field is practically limited prevent the escape of odors and dust. to garbage, for hot ashes would create Two-horse four-wheeled bottom trouble and their roughness and weight dump wagons have been tried some- would exceed the strength capacity of what, where the length of haul is the paper. considerable, and a few experiments Galvanized iron cans holding about have been made with motor trucks to 100 pounds are standard for ashes, be loaded with the cans or boxes. while general rubbish receptacles can In at least one well known Ameri- not be standardized. can city two-horse collecting wagons Too little attention is paid by many are in service, provided with removable householders to the cleanliness of the steel bodies, which at an unloading receptacles, and to their being kept station are removed and stacked on tightly covered. They should be fre- railroad flat cars, for transporting quently washed and scoured so that several miles to the treatment works. no putrifying old matter can remain In some of our other large cities carts to inoculate the new, and in warm collect the garbage and dump it at weather be sterilized with strong disin- central stations, into steel hopper cars, fectants. Any less care will insure hauled daily to the works, or upon the breeding of flies with all their barges for water disposal or distant nuisance and danger to health, as well place treatment. as the development of offensive odors. None can say that either of these (b) Frequency and method of collection. methods is the best; local conditions and attending circumstances can alone Daily, i. e., six times a week is wise, determine, but in general, the shorter if population is congested, and is essen- the haul between the house or shop tial to decency, if hog feeding with and the place of treatment, with the the garbage follows; many places col- least intermediate handling, the greater lect but three times, and a few only will be the efficiency in operation and once weekly. the lower will be the cost. If mixed materials are gathered, the longer intervals may pass, from a sani- (c) Treatment of collections, to destroy tary viewpoint, so that quantity then disease and nuisance producing determines frequency, because ashes elements: and paper etc., absorb much of the From time immemorial, household moisture from the garbage to some and municipal wastes have found final extent therefore deferring putrefaction. deposit in vacant lots and low lying The one-horse farm box wagon can ground, where exposed to sun and be often found doing service and the rain, partially burned, or covered with one-horse contractors' wooden dump ashes or earth and sometimes sprinkled cart, but more usually in the larger with disinfectants they have gradually 1310 The American Journal of Public Health found their way back to their original earth, chemical and fire; each with its elements creating nuisance or not in own peculiarities, limitations and pos- the process, as lack of care made sible secondary problems. possible or esthetic taste decided. On a farm, hogs consume the vege- (d) Di8posal of resultant products in table and animal household wastes, healthful manner. usually in .a fresh condition, hence a From a reduction plant the waste perfectly unobjectionable process. In liquors can safely pass in the sewer, a small town with sufficiently frequent without nuisance en route or involving collection, the same method is followed large difficulty in operating sewage without particular detriment, though disposal works. The grease is ex- some of the material could scarcely tracted, barreled and transported as be thought to be in very choice condi- an inoffensive manufactured commod- tion; even for hog food. ity; animal hides are salted or crudely For large places, though actually tanned and baled for ready handling; in vogue in several, the practice is tankage is dry, fairly odorless, can be condemned by the most progressive packed in bags and usually be re- sanitarians. moved in car load lots. The nature of a population has also As a general rule such plants are much to do with the suitability of located near a railroad. method. With rigid and careful sepa- From incineration works, nothing ration of garbage, ashes and dry refuse, of offensive nature exists as a product; where quantities are large in the ag- power is developed for local use and the gregate, it may be wise to treat the slag, bricks, blocks etc., are transported garbage for recovery of its grease, as are other building materials, without ammonia and tankage. The ashes offence. can usually be used for filling, or even FINANCIAL. be separated to recover their fair residue of good coal; while the other No municipal operation can be materials can be assorted for sale and considered, no matter how important even from public health standpoint the worthless remainders be burned. Corrosive disinfectants, like quick without weighing its financial factors. lime, are occasionally used as a tem- Here is where so many places com- pletely fail, because most attention is porary treatment, but practically given to that which seems to chiefly never outside of the tropics and mili- interest the public at the time; senti- tary camps as a general means for mental objection too often outweigh- destruction. ing good business sense. Treatment by fire is very effective, absolutely sanitary, and successful (e) Ownership of receptacles. if conducted intelligently. Almost universally, receptacles are Briefly summarized therefore final the private property of the house- disposition can be classed as animal, holder, being carried full to the collect- Refuse and Garbage Disposal 1311 ing cart and returned empty and foul, article similarly to that of gathering to again be filled. the raw materials. In view of the unsanitary condition If general private collection be in -that usually so wholly prevails, due vogue, this last problem is of but small to neglect in caring for the emptied import, but if full municipal operation receptacles, the plan has been tried, is in effect, particularly in a large though not on large scale, of removing city, the item becomes of importance. the refuse in its receptacle and leaving The public removal of wastes has a clean sterilized can in its place. grown up from the sanitary side, to Naturally this tends to municipal free the householder and the small ownership of the can, and as a matter tradesman from the nuisance and ex- -of full community economy, such is pense of removing small quantities wise, for, bought in large quantity, of putrescible matters and those having the lowest prices can be secured, and no further household or store use; into .under the right kind of supervision, one having universal community im- better care would be accorded by the portance. It has been further adopted collectors, than they usually give to as a means of greater net civic economy privately owned receptacles. In the as well as of health. long run therefore this means lower With the very rapid growth of the net cost to the taxpayer. large apartment houses and hotels With municipal ownership there and development of the department should go municipal cleansing. stores, the questions may well be raised; are not the wastes technically (f) Municipal or private coUection. of "trade" nature, and therefore should Unsightliness and uncleanliness have they not be removed at private ex- universally gone hand in hand with pense. private collection. If the contracts Some cities solve the problem by be made with the individual property limiting the quantity for daily re- owner, extortion and petty graft ac- moval from any one place, more nearly company them; if made with the com- equalizing the expense therefor, but munity, on basis of doing the work for some injustice is inevitable. the least sum per year, inattention Probably the only measure of strict and skimping the service follow, with justice would be to require payment more petty graft; if on basis of yardage of small fixed sums for each can or bar- or tonnage hauled and delivered, rel or cartload of refuse removed, every incentive to pad the figures, and using a ticket system to prevent to take material not properly col- crookedness of collectors; this is in lectible: effect in a few places. It is a moot question just what With municipal management the wastes should be publicly removed, collecting cart, wagon or truck can be and what should be considered "trade" more readily standardized and greater with the cost of removal, included as a cleanliness be controlled. Greater imi- factor in the value of the manufactured tial expense may prevail, though tak- 181912 The American Journal of Public Health iug all factors into consideration, the There are seasonal variations, not community will be better off in the only as to quantity of garbage, ashes long run and certainly is likely to be and rubbish, but as to their qualities better served and satisfied. as well. All these factors have bear- (g) Lengths of hauling routes. ing on suitable method of treatment This is a subject solely of local and of course the net, cost of operation. import; no direct comparison between There are two practices in plant different places can be made to ad- development which depend largely vantage, unless their topographical, on contract conditions. If the mu- geographical and development condi- nicipality is to handle its own wastes tions are identical, which of course is there is little excuse for the niggardly, rarely the case. which usually means ultimate waste- The ideal is to have the collecting fulness. If a private corporation is routes start at the higher levels, and concerned the time of contract be- comes a controlling factor. With a proceed downhill to the treatment or short term of years, say five to ten disposal centres, with the minimum with uncertainty as to renewal it traction distance for the filled vehicles would not pay to erect permanent. after leaving the last collection point. structures, or go to refinements in The nature of occupancy of the dis- machinery with the possibility of trict will determine the quantity of scrapping the whole, or selling out at material, therefore the length of haul a figure so low as to be an almost for each vehicle during loading. Other negligible return. conditions will somewhat determine For this reason discredit has been the place of treatment or disposal, cast on so many existing systems, and therefore the total lengths of haul. the idea prevails that such conditions These conditions fix the daily service must necessarily be unchangeable. of each vehicle, consequently the cost Three main types of plant have been: of collection; obviously therefore, if popular or rather have been enilured. the places of treatment can be at the The earlier form, burning the gar- centres of the producing districts, so arranged that there is the minimum bage and refuse at temperatures under of dead traction, there will follow the 900 degrees, with almost inevitable maximum collecting efficiency and the escape of noxious gases, smoke and minimum of collection cost. dust. The next, cooking the garbage and extracting its elements of value, (h) Treatment plants. usually though not necessarily creat- Each city presents its own charac- ing local nuisance, and the third, in- teristics, dependent on geographical cineration at high temperature (1,40& location, as to latitude; on topo- to 2,000 degrees Fahr.). graphical position, seashore, river The first mentioned is scarcely con- front or inland; and on type of occu- sidered any longer as a method worthy pancy, residential, business or manu- of adoption. facturing. Under the second it is quite possible Refuse and Garbage Disposal 1sis to take raw garbage even in a more or place is not entirely out of question. less putrid condition and treat it with The value of the daily wastes to an live steam in closely sealed receptacles individual household is slight; the and pass the by-products and residues combined collections, aggregate such through stage after stage in practically quantities of many different classes closed processes, with induced draft as to be well worthy of recovery and ventilation and fire consumption of treatment to insure first, sanitary gases, so that even within the build- safety, and second, sale for remanu- ings themselves there will be little facture. offense, and outside, practically none If the municipality handles the at all from the process itself. Unfor- case itself in the most economical tunately however most plants are not manner, all factors considered, there conducted along such lines. should be a sales or utilization value The third and more recent form is in by-products from both reduction the high temperature incinerator where and high temperature plants to pay all classes of collections are burned, for running them and yield some sur- without the use of extra fuel and if plus towards the costs of collection., properly designed and suitably oper- Obviously collection must represent ated, without causing local nuisance expense; interest on capital invested, of odor, smoke or dust. Such a plant depreciation, wear, and labor. will secure from the fuel value in the Grease and tankage have market ashes and the rubbish, heat sufficient values of but slight fluctuation; at to operate itself and leave a consider- lowest, they should be more than able surplus for other purposes. This enough to meet expenses of well regu- has been used to operate sewage and lated works and help towards those of water pumping stations, to furnish haul. electric lights and several kinds of In incineration plants, steam be- small manufacturing. comes an available by-product which One of its most valuable properties can be converted into electricity or be is the feasibility of erection within used direct for power to pump water the district of collection, practically or sewage as well as run the works eliminating excessive haul. themselves; the slag, in crude shape The reduction method has hereto- makes an excellent light filling for fore appealed most to private capital, swampy lands, or if ground into vari- for a very complete sale of by-products ous sizes, can be used in lieu of stone, could usually be effected, but as gravel, or ashes in concrete for founda- municipalities take over the care of tion or mass-wall work; if ground quite more of their own utilities, the diffi- fine, with addition of cement it makes culty of making sales to advantage, a fair brick or block for walls not ex- with the possibility of local utilization posed to the weather or to abrasion. of incinerator results, is tending to Of course having passed through cause quite extensive consideration temperatures of 1,400 to 2,000 degrees of that method. Fahr. all noxious matters are com- Using several systems in the same pletely destroyed. 1B14 The American Journal of Public Health If proper credit be given to the The reduction of garbage, so as to value of these products, quite a respec- produce grease and fertilizer base as table margin above expense will be the chief elements, offers to corpora- shown, and a fair balance towards the tions the most likely field for operation,. cost of collection, as in the case of so that this has probably accounted in reduction works. Let no one imagine, large measure, for the existence of so however, that the combined work of many reduction plants in the larger collection and disposal will yield a net cities. profit to the community in any present In the past there has been oppor- day system. tunity in most places for the ready In reduction works where the proc- deposition of ashes and the burning esses have been carried out in the best of light rubbish without creating any manner, the dry and ground garbage large degree of annoyance. Again tankage from which the grease has there is in the collections, much material been extracted makes a fair basic ma- of real value which will warrant the terial for land fertilizers, but needs first sale of picking privileges. The munic- the addition of other ingredients. The ipality itself will not often bother with different agricultural companies will details, but is usually perfectly willing however buy it at prices making it to unload the responsibility upon a worth treatment. The grease chiefly contracting firm and allow it to make goes to soap companies who are con- what profit there is, and give the sem- stantly looking for new sources of blance of thoughtfulness for the tax- supply. payers by selling the privileges to the Incineration plants do not have highest bidder, with rarely any re- quite so wide a field for sale of by- turn of equivalent value. products, but if they are utilized Unfortunately the output of power direct, or worked up for other mu- in incineration plants is not usually nicipal department uses the net return constant, so that unless used to sup- is quite material. plement other municipal needs, it (i) Management. can not be sold on terms sufficient to A lack of understanding upon the make it a paying enterprise, conse- part of city officials in general has led quently private corporations are averse to such a condition of affairs that they to adopting the method. have hesitated to undertake complete The foregoing review of refuse han- municipal management, fearing the dling is suggestive rather than ex- criticism following nuisance in opera- haustive, even as to number of topics tion; also perhaps for less worthy considered. Full articles could with motives, yielding to the importunities profit be presented on each of the of those willing to face the contumely, factors. For general discussion the provided they could secure the un- main points of sanitary efficiency, doubted profits in running a disposal financial economy and taxpayers' con- plant, while the community stood the venience may be emphasized, while expensive features of collecting and the many technical matters may be delivering the materials for treatment. left to each place to study for itself.
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