Green Birds: The Linc goes landfill-free

A Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) trash truck from Sustainable Waste Solutions, likely the first in the state to put this trend into operation.

If you go to an Eagles game next season and enjoy a plastic-bottled beer during the game (I know, what are the odds?), that bottle could be part of a former Lincoln Financial Field tarp.

How so? Randy Hendricks, the CEO of Sustainable Waste Solutions, explains: "The Eagles organization has done a tremendous job of looking at everything they buy, and everything they do, for sustainability," and the go-green mindset extends beyond high-profile solar-panel and wind-turbine projects to the nitty-gritty of waste management. Hendricks says the team is on a quest to go "100% landfill-free."

That's where his company enters the picture: "They just had a full field tarp replaced. They were looking into how it could be gotten rid of in the least harmful way, you know, most efficiently - but we said hey, that's a plastic that we can ground up and recycle. That's going to become a beer bottle or something."

Hendricks's company, based in Souderton is handling landfill-free business contracts throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, and claims a statewide milestone in putting the first compressed natural gas (CNG) trash truck into operation.  “Putting the first CNG trash truck on the road in Pennsylvania allows SWS to expand upon its commitment to providing a sustainable waste handling alternative to the area’s green conscious companies,” Hendricks said in the company's press release.

In speaking with me, he conceded that it's possible someone in the far-western portion of the state has a CNG trash truck, but it seems pretty unlikely: "There are only 28 CNG fueling stations in Pennsylvania," he explained, "and most are privately owned. PECO allows other companies to use their fueling stations - we pay for the fuel, of course - and we're the only [waste-management company] fueling up there. That's why I'm pretty sure we'd know if someone else was doing this."

Natural gas, of course, has recently come under some scrutiny as a green fuel due to the industry's "fracking"-mania. But Hendricks asks us to compare it with how things are now with gasoline-powered trucks, given that petroleum extraction also has plentiful environmental issues: The CNG trucks boast "quieter operation, including an 80 to 90 percent lower decibel levelthan comparable diesel trucks; a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 30 percent; a reduction in carbon monoxide (CO) up to 80 percent; and a reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) up to 85 percent."

Sustainable Waste Solutions may set a trend in waste hauling and processing; at any rate, the company is cleaning up at various operations (they only do businesses, not residential) including several Whole Foods Market stores and Merck, always avoiding the landfill. "Organic waste goes to a composting facility in Wilmington," said Hendicks. "As for Merck - the stuff goes either to recycling or is burned to turn into energy."

He notes that another contract is with Lehigh University - "so we have been handling waste up there at the Eagles training camp." He's looking forward to dealing with the Linc and the Eagles in full-season mode.

So remember, while at the game, please be sure you don't forget to get one of those beers. After all, who knows? You might have a piece of the tarp! Not the same glory as a game ball, of course, but as close as most of us will ever get to the playing field.