Time is running out for Horry County's landfill

Horry County's landfill is running out of space for trash and the Solid Waste Authority (SWA) is looking at ways to preserve it for as long as possible.

The landfill has an estimated 26 years before it's filled up, according to Solid Waste Authority Assistant Executive Director Mike Bessant.

Currently, the SWA is working with a technical advisory council to examine new technologies that will extend the lifespan of the landfill.

"If we could do an alternative to disposal, we could look at our landfill lasting another 30 years. Thirty or 40 years beyond 2040," Bessant said.

Bessant says it typically takes around 10 years to implement a new plan between the regulatory and permitting process. Starting the planning process early also leaves more time to troubleshoot just in case problems arise.

Bessant identified two new technologies that are currently being looked at. The first is commonly referred to as a 'dirty MRF', which would recycle around 80-percent of the trash through a sorting process. This technology would cost around $50 million.

The other technology would use a process known as gasification to turn trash into a usable product, which comes with a price tag of $250 million.

The investment in these technologies is important to keeping future costs down for those who live in the county, according to Bessant.

"If we don't look at those technologies and be abreast of somehow of some new technology. What's going to happen is when we run out of space here the tipping fee rates here are going to skyrocket," Bessant said.

Currently, tipping fees in Horry County are $29 per ton, which is one of the lowest in the area.

The technical advisory council meets next month and will be responsible for advising the SWA about which direction they should take.

Bessant said the SWA's goal is to have a plan in place by the end of this year.