The Czech Republic is a country promised to landfills. Currently, about half of all municipal waste is landfilled in the Czech Republic. Its production is not decreasing year on year, so the area needed for landfill is increasing every year. Landfill operators are therefore looking for ways to get along with their neighbours. One option is to voluntarily house data on their environmental impact with the help of special sensors developed by the Brno-based startup Agdata.
While Agdata's entire measurement ecosystem cannot eliminate the impacts of a landfill on the surrounding area, it can effectively monitor that the standards set by law are not exceeded. Through a network of sensitive sensors placed on surrounding land, it continuously measures and records the levels of substances that the landfill produces. This data can then be easily shared by the operator with, for example, local authorities. Or the municipality can measure them directly and the landfill operator pays for the operation of the sensors.
These are so-called R-sensors that can monitor carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ammonia or methane. In addition, they can monitor dust levels. Dust can be produced both by the landfill site itself (especially when, for example, construction waste is deposited there) and by the vehicles that bring the waste to the site.
Measurement will help to help to reach a mutual agreement
In the coexistence of municipalities and landfills, there are moments when municipalities pull the short end of the rope. In a number of localities, entire neighbourhoods are affected by landfill operations, but impact measurements often fail to show a major problem or the whole situation ends with a fine that makes no difference. In this respect, a change of approach by landfill operators is needed, which can ultimately be beneficial for both parties. If the operator can prove that the landfill has no negative impact on its surroundings, it can significantly strengthen its position when negotiating an expansion of operations or a change in the material to be disposed of.
And this is what is key for many operators. At least by the end of the decade, landfilling will boom in the Czech Republic. Although the European Union has been working effectively for a long time to ensure that only the necessary minimum of waste ends up in municipal landfills in the Member States, the reality in the Czech Republic is still somewhat different. This is due, among other things, to the postponement of the ban on the landfilling of recoverable and recyclable waste, which was due to come into force in two years' time. However, the Czech Republic will not bring it into force until 2030.
It is understandable that none of the inhabitants of towns and villages want a landfill in their backyard, and so councils are under a lot of pressure from their citizens when voting to expand or change the landfill. An agreement on transparent data sharing, supplemented by contractual penalties in the event of exceeding monitored limits, excessive dusting or odour, may then often be the only way to avoid a stalemate.
The first data-transparent landfill in Slovakia
One of the first "data-transparent" landfills where Agdata operates its measuring sensors is located a few kilometres from the Czech border - in Slovakia in the village of Dubová. The landfill belongs to the municipality of the same name, which in the past has had to deal with, for example, a petition for the immediate closure of the landfill. It has now installed R-sensors at several locations to monitor, among other things, the specific impacts of the landfill on residents - for example, the production of PM particles or exhaust fumes. Data from the sensors located around the perimeter of its site is shared in real time with the municipal council. And it can warn citizens in the event of excessive levels.
Data on hazardous landfill gases are of course measured directly in the shafts, as required by legislation. In this case, sensors from Agdata provide additional measurements at several locations in the village and on site and also focus on other influences. They thus help to monitor the operation of the site and track real-time data on dust or exhaust fumes, for example, which are immediately available to the residents of Dubová on the municipal website. As a result, they have found, for example, that air quality is often worse in the village than directly at the landfill site due to car traffic.
Use not only for landfills
However, all measurements are not concentrated on landfills and other sites can be measured as well. Dust monitoring data is increasingly being applied to large buildings such as motorways, corridors or logistics centres, for example. This is because dust is very often a nuisance in the vicinity during dry season earthmoving operations. In some cases, it is also harmful to health.
Of course, it is impossible to avoid dusty environments during construction or demolition work. However, this does not mean that the inhabitants of the municipalities, through their local authorities, should not demand compensation, which is again of interest to the builders themselves. Compensation based on real air data rather than perception can significantly reduce or even dampen conflicts.