How to Size a Transfer Station

How to Size a Transfer Station thumbnail
Transfer stations are drop spots between homes and landfills.

To improve efficiency in trash collection, commercial haulers may opt to deliver loads to solid-waste transfer stations — regulated, temporary dump sites for refuse. If a landfill is more than 30 minutes or 35 miles away from residential or business pickup points, researchers with the World Bank and U.S Environmental Protection Agency have determined it may be worth the extra cost to dump loads at transfer stations rather than take additional time away from collection routes. Transfer-station owners will need to coordinate with trash haulers and government officials to make sure their enterprise is sized appropriately for business and legal reasons.


    • 1

      Meet with trash haulers operating within a 30-minute travel radius of your probable location. Offer your service and reach tentative agreements with companies to deliver solid-waste loads to your location. Ask for information about the tonnage each trash company expects to deliver to your location each year.

    • 2

      Contact land-use and environmental regulators for your county and state to learn the rules for operating a transfer station. Some counties may have specific rules regarding outside storage of waste and require that fencing or landscaping surround the property; landscaping requirements will reduce the land area you have available for waste storage. Environmental officials may place restrictions on the amount of time a load can remain on site before delivery to a landfill, or the height and weight of storage piles.

    • 3

      Calculate the size of facility you will need to handle the tentative agreements reached with trash haulers within the government regulations. For example, the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service estimates a 3-acre plot in the state with a small service building will be able to handle about 8,200 tons of waste per year.

    • 4

      Determine the usable land area on your site to size your solid-waste transfer station. Consider that each acre can generally handle 2,700 tons of waste per year, using the Oklahoma example. Multiply your number of acres by 2,700 tons, or the figure given to you by your state environmental officials, to find out how much waste you can agree to take in and transfer to a landfill. Alternatively, if you have not yet purchased land, divide your total projected tonnage by the factor of 2,700 to find out how many usable acres you will need.

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