(The following is an excerpt from a MSW Management magazine article published January/February 2000.)

Software in MSW:

Is This Your Time for Using Software in Solid Waste Management

By Paul Hull

"… Mark Banwart, who represents the producer of SWPlan, states, "We believe that localities that are beginning to address waste management as a system and do not have a preconceived approach in mind can benefit greatly from the scenario development format that is laid out in SWPlan." Programs like SWPlan will design an integrated solid waste management system or evaluate an existing one and simulate different management scenarios of the user's own design. The program can compare different waste-generation amounts (from those of a single building to those for the entire county) and determine the best-integrated system according to technology, efficiency, costs, and performance. These programs help users understand their situations with data based on relevant considerations. For solid waste management, an ideal program will define population, employment, and density of the community; determine the composition of the solid wastes and the amounts; define the sources of waste and the types and costs of collection; and define the distances involved in transportation of the wastes. SWPlan, for example, will also identify revenues and costs and present the results in reports that are easy to read and evaluate.

Today's software is designed for use by people who know their own businesses, not necessarily for people who know computers. Understanding solid waste management is infinitely more important when interpreting results than knowledge of the software's internal workings. At the very least, programs collect and record data about your community's solid wastes so that it can be accessed much faster, and it is more accurate than anything that can be done with pen and paper or with information stored in somebody's head.

The variables in a community's solid waste management program can reflect the methods of collection and treatment, the types of wastes involved, the costs of different phases of the operation, and possible sources of revenue to offset the public costs. CPM Inc., producer of Recycling Insights and SWPlan, has published this list of variables addressed in its programs:

Variables for waste management approaches and methods: Sources, waste reduction, yard waste composting, recyclables, material processing (MRF), waste-to-energy incineration, ash disposal, refuse-dcrived fuel (RI)F), Composting of MSW, landfills (with or without transfer stations).

Variables for recyclables and commodities: Newsprint and newspaper, telephone books, magazines, corrugated cardboard, office-generated papers, mixed paper, aluminum cans, other aluminum, bimetal cans, ferrous materials, nonferrous materials, glass, glass containers, plastic containers, plastic film, yard waste, food wastes, wood, textiles, and rubber.

Variables for transportation and collection of wastes: Transfer stations, direct haul, residential collection, open residential collection, municipal residential collection, municipal contracted residential collection, zoned residential collection, commercial collection, recyclables collection, commercial onsite collection, drop-off recycling containers.

Variables for costs of a solid waste management system: Collection costs, transportation costs, operating costs, total facility costs, debt service, gross costs, net costs.

Variables for sources of revenue. Tipping fees, RDF, steam sales, electricity sales, MSW compost sales, yard waste compost sales, sales of recyclables and commodities, miscellaneous fees.

From this information, SWPlan generates five reports for its users, comprising 50 bar charts, eight pie charts, 18 tables and five sub-reports. Such a program costs less than $500. …"