Features, News

Odour complaints arise from the community

Odour impacts liveability. It’s the reason for a large number of complaints made to environmental authorities and in communities, with landfills often listed as the top source.

Operators with odour issues generate hundreds of complaints a month. These complaints are often supported by a range of external data, from odour diaries and sniff tests to formal air quality monitoring systems set up by investigators.

Communities are increasingly impatient about slow and indecisive responses to odour complaints, so it is more important than ever that operators can minimise uncertainty, and reduce the time between a problem occurring and a solution being actioned.

For operators, odour management is a complex and increasingly technology-driven process. Outside factors such as meteorological conditions play a part in management approaches, and need to be modelled with internal data to make abatement and control measures effective.

New challenges in waste management as urban sprawls
New set of challenges driving unprecedented change in the waste management sector include:

  • Residential populations are brought into closer proximity to previously isolated waste and industrial facilities
  • Landfill site operators with legacy facilities permits are under community pressure to modernise to meet quality-of-life expectations
  • External researchers are pouring pressure by using GIS, census, and satellite data to assess the suitability of locations for solid waste management
  • Communities concern more on air quality issues caused by waste management centres and industrial sites

How to (re)build trust within the community
As cities sprawl and communities come into closer proximity with waste sites, sustainable operations have never been more critical. Sustainable landfill operations stand on three pillars:

  • Compliance
  • Optimisation
  • Community engagement

Communities are redefining their relationship with waste management sites where odour emissions and air quality impact due to uninformed operational decisions can lead to compliance breach. It is crucial that communities, regulators, and industry need to be able to trust each other that they are doing the best they can for the benefit and in the best interests of everybody. That requires an open conversation and an end to negative actions. Communities lose faith in operators that are perceived to care only about money, and not about community safety or environmental concerns.

Nowadays, residentials contact directly to landfill sites as they can easily find information of rankings and reviews on the Internet. Communities now have a voice, an open opportunity to engage with a waste facility operator and the ability to suggest actions or influence operations, are more likely to accept the facility’s ongoing presence. They are also less likely to lodge complaints with authorities, since they can be confident of gaining a direct audience with the operator, with a high likelihood of open dialogue and positive action or redress.

The power of environmental intelligence in waste management
Over the past five years we’ve seen a significant change in the technologies available for odour detection. Only a decade ago, odour detection and management required specialist precise equipment. Now, operators can use small, cheap sensors and low-power communications for the same purpose. Data collected from these devices can be transmitted to a central point and run through environmental intelligence platforms to identify patterns and uncover insights that can inform interventions, such as misting controls, covers, methane management and other onsite mitigation techniques.

Envirosuite provides Environmental Intelligence tools that enables operators to comply with permitted conditions, optimise odour mitigations, and hold conversations with government agencies and communities that build and engender trust in the handling of environmental concerns. Environmental Intelligence provides a ‘bird’s eye view’ of operations, helping operators to understand what’s happening and what could happen next.

Operators can calculate odour at specific locations within their site and outside its boundaries to understand any potential impact now and up to 72 hours into the future. They can also pinpoint the likely source of odour complaints to drastically shorten investigation times. These insights can be shared with local residents to help the site avoid problems, reduce costs, and maintain a good reputation in the communities you serve.