Transfer stations are the sites on which transfer of waste is carried out, placed on small and the larger vehicles from transformation over long distances directly to the processing or final disposal site. At their simplest, they can consist of open grounds where waste is unloaded from vehicle and subsequently picked up by other vehicles for long-range transport.
More complex design can waste store space, direct emptying of waste into containers, office space for management etc. In small communities, where the flow of waste through a transfer station is small, it may be appropriate to provide a low-cost transfer points such as a designated enclosure or a demountable container positioned at the side of a road.
Cost of Transfer Stations
In planning transfer station, proper attention has to be paid to evaluate the costs of design and construction as well as operation and maintenance, which should be less than the transportation savings. The system should be more environmentally friendly than direct transportation of waste to disposal sites.
The main reason for waste transfer is to optimise the productivity of vehicles and collection crews as they remain closer to routes, while larger vehicles make the longer trip to processing and disposal sites and reduce overall system costs. It can be integrated with other functional elements of integrated waste management option to improve overall waste management performances.
Advantages of Waste Transfer Stations in Waste Management
In addition to cost savings, waste transfer stations offer a range of benefits including the following:
- Provide an opportunity to increase waste density. In areas where compacting vehicles are not available, waste transfer stations may be used to compact the waste so greater quantities can be carried at once to the final disposal sites.
- Minimise illegal waste dumping. particularly in developing countries where the human and animal powered plus small motorised vehicles are used for the collection of waste but unsuitable for travelling long distances.
- Can serve as a controlled place for sorting and processing the waste. Particularly in many low-income countries where a thriving informal economy exits in recycling of waste, these waste transfer stations can minimise health hazards and may limit the amount of waste picking that is done in the streets, which will reduce the amount of waste that is scattered around communal bins and waste accumulation points.
- Reduce maintenance cost of collection vehicles. These vehicles stay on well paved roads and are not travelling on rough roads, particularly in landfill sites.
- Improved waste dumping efficiency at final disposal site, reducing the number of vehicles at the disposal site.
The main problems associated with waste transfer stations are:
- increased traffic volume, noise and air pollution in the surrounding areas, and
- unless they are properly maintained there is potential for environmental damage in the surrounding area.
However, if the waste transfer stations are properly constructed and maintained, some of the above problems can be minimised. for example, some large, modern transfer stations are enclosed and made with materials that can be easily maintained.
Design and Planning Considerations
In the planning and design of waste transfer stations a number of factors should be considered, including:
- location-governing by the proximity of the collection routes, access to the major haulage routes, isolation from the community
- quantity of waste to be transferred/handled
- types and number of primary and secondary vehicles served
- types of transfer operations
- equipment requirements
- waste characteristics
- sanitation provision
The capacity of transfer stations depends on storage volume and throughout capacity, space required for other waste management and facilities for workers. Similarly the equipment requirement depends on activities involved at a particular transfer station.