PLATTSBURGH — Casella Waste Management is a big support to manufacturing in the North Country, Clinton County Landfill General Manager Sean Lukas says.

When people talk about throwing things away, Casella is “away,” he told the Press-Republican.

“What we produce for people is an environmentally responsible disappearing act, right?" Lukas said. "We take the waste and we manage it appropriately.

"We manage it in permitted facilities that are highly engineered and designed to take these materials. We transport it there efficiently, cost-effectively and also in environmentally sound ways.”

'ALL NEED US'

Casella began as a one-truck hauling operation in the Rutland, Vt. area and now covers Pennsylvania through Maine and all points in between, Lukas said.

“The biggest growth has really been the last three years, when we really moved into some of what I would call the bigger markets like Albany, Rochester and Buffalo.”

In the North Country, the company has trucking and hauling divisions, and offers solid waste and recycling pickup.

The Clinton County Landfill accepts material from many local manufacturing companies.

“They all need us in a way because everybody’s got to get rid of their stuff,” Lukas said.

INDUSTRIAL AUDITS

And that's not just about throwing things away. Casella also does audits for its industrial customers to make sure materials are going to the highest and best use, or being disposed of efficiently, Lukas said.

That's because while some materials can simply be thrown away and discarded, others could have other uses.

For example, industrial material like paper sludge from Georgia-Pacific can be used at the landfill to cover the garbage, keeping odors down and birds and rodents out.

A few years ago, Casella’s resource solutions division worked with a manufacturing company that was sending a foam product, packaged in rolls, for disposal because it was taking up a lot of space.

“They worked with the manufacturer to figure out that they could actually melt this stuff down, putting it through essentially a giant hot glue gun," Lukas said.

"They were getting bricks of this plastic out on the other side and they were reselling that to a process that could use it."

EFFICIENCY

Casella itself works to be as efficient as possible, Lukas said.

Speaking from the disposal side, he said the Clinton County Landfill works to maximize the use of space at the facility.

“We’re doing it in the way prescribed by environmental conservation and making sure that we’re getting the most efficiency with our gas collection and we use that then to generate power at our energy facility.”

Compared with last year, the Schuyler Falls-based facility is now producing 15 megawatt hours more per day, he said.

Casella has strict environmental compliance, including a manager dedicated to North Country divisions, as well as a special waste department that monitors waste streams from industrial customers and makes sure the company knows exactly what materials are being received by facilities at all times.

“From the landfill perspective, it’s following all those fundamentals,” Lukas said. “It’s covering waste appropriately, only accepting waste into highly engineered containment systems that are designed and approved by the state of New York.”

TRUCKING WORKFORCE

Trucking is a large component of the waste management industry, and truck driver positions are currently at a premium, Lukas said.

Casella recently donated two trucks to CV-TEC, which they will use for their maintenance program and CDL school.

“I think CDL school is going to help (with workforce challenges); we’re really excited about that opportunity,” Lukas said.

He said some of his drivers have left for a higher rate of pay, adding that, in the North Country, Casella has done market rate adjustments over the last two years.

“That’s the biggest thing that’s helped us stay successful.”

Email Cara Chapman:

cchapman@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @PPR_carachapman

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