Waste Management receives Environmental Excellence Award from EPA Region 6 at the GTL groundbreaking


Oklahoma City, Okla. Just outside the thriving locale of Oklahoma City is Waste Management’s East Oak Landfill, which for the past several years has been piloting an advanced process to convert landfill gas into renewable fuels and chemicals, like cleaner-burning diesel.

In May, the company held a groundbreaking ceremony at the landfill, which will also host the first commercial facility for this process. In attendance were Waste Management leadership, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, Fenton Rood, land protection lead for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, and Carl Edlund, director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund division, who awarded the project with two “Greenovation” awards for excellence.

This first ever award was issued to WM with the deletion of the Mosley Road landfill from the Superfund list in September 2013, as well as for the innovative use of landfill gas for the production of diesel fuel at the gas-to-liquids facility. Edlund indicated that the Mosely Road project used a green remediation approach, reduced greenhouse gases, provided a beneficial re-use of land, and produced green energy, all of which sets the standard for future environmental excellence awards.

One “Greenovation” award went to WM’s Mike Caldwell, director of groundwater protection and the technical lead on getting the landfill off the Superfund list. The second went to Pete Schultze, senior district manager of disposal overseeing the site. Speaking during the event, Schultze thanked both local and federal regulators for helping to reach the project’s objective of creating renewable fuel, which has been in the works for nearly a decade. “It is a prime example of what can happen when all of these entities work together,” Schultze said.

In addition to creating diesel, one of the outputs of the gas-to-liquids process is an industrial wax that has multiple applications. For example, during the event, attendees were given pint-sized candles — informally named “trashy candles.” While the source of the wax may come from waste, it gives off no unpleasant odors when burned. Ilze Long, GTL site manager, indicated that the diesel fuel produced at the GTL facility is the first biodiesel to be certified by EPA for meeting on-road standards following a 1,000-hour engine emissions test.

“We see lots of examples of reuse, but this represents a new level,” Edlund said. “We want to encourage other organizations to do the same.”

PHOTO: Members of the TEXOMA team (L-R): Jim Berryman, engineer; Louis Ramirez, HR director; Don DeFazio, senior district manager; Paula Carboni, environmental protection manager; Mike Caldwell, director of environmental protection; Don Smith, area vice president; Greta Calvery; community relations manager; Pete Schultze, senior district manager; Rick Padgett, public sector; Ilze Long, GTL site manager.