The Business of Dirt

Seems crazy, doesn’t it?

When you think about it, the idea of putting clean soil in a landfill is absurd. First we dig a big hole in the ground. Then we move that dirt to another location. And then we fill that hole with dirt from a third location. And everybody involved in this process gets paid to move that dirt around from site to site.

Why is musical chairs for dirt such a profitable business?

With nearly all other waste streams, we long ago realized that depositing them in a hole in the ground is not sustainable. Municipal recycling and composting programs across the U.S. and Canada are intended to prevent unnecessary dumping and to recover the inherent value in these waste streams.

Over the years, this idea has spread to new commercial and industrial sectors where it seems like every waste stream has a recoverable value. New technologies for recovering the value in old tires, glass, industrial waste waters etc. are being developed every year.

MetaFLO has developed a method to recover the value in soil.

Over the last few years, MetaFLO has recovered hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of uncontaminated waste fluid from horizontal directional drilling, tunneling projects and hydro excavation operations that met the criteria of clean fill in some of the strictest regulatory environments in North America.

These fluids were treated by various means but all at very low doses of our proprietary, environmentally friendly reagent blends. The result is a solidified soil that meets every clean fill regulation we’re aware of and could thus be shipped to clean fill sites seeking this material for rehabilitation.

Clean fill sites actually want and need that soil so of course the cost of disposal is cut significantly, the municipality benefits from acquiring low cost clean fill and perhaps most importantly, that landfill space is preserved for the few waste streams we don’t have a recycling solution for yet. Everyone wins.

It should be noted as well that when mud is sent to landfill, it would typically be bulked to become a ‘solid’. That means adding vast quantities of sawdust or fly ash or some other contaminant that would disqualify the waste mud from reuse as a clean fill.

So why does this continue to happen?

Many project owners, project managers, estimators and other stakeholders are unaware there is an alternative. Sometimes the waste fluids generated on these projects are an afterthought. Before a project begins, the priorities are the start of the project, not the waste and by-products. Unfortunately there is also plenty of mud and soil that gets dumped outside the boundaries of regulation.

However, in any case, if soil and liquid waste management is managed in compliance and that waste recovery is planned in advance, like it is with tires, glass, compost, etc., there will be tremendous value to be recovered for every stakeholder. And everyone saves money!