The Modulo Centre
A new approach to recycling depots
The waste and recycling depot is a fixture of Canadian waste man-agement. Depots come in all shapes and sizes, from a few bins scat-tered around a muddy yard to large above-grade saw-tooth design facilities. They offer residents the ability to dispose of recyclables and wastes directly into bins. In most cases the types of recyclables that can be dropped off are much broader than what can be left at the curb, and can capture a significant amount of recyclable materials.
In Canada, depots tend to be the mainstay of smaller municipalities that, in some cases, don’t have curbside collection. However, they’re also used by larger municipalities to provide residents a place to bring materials in between collection days, as well as handle recyclables for which there are no curbside programs.
All current depots are designed as one-of-a-kind systems that incur the costs of site-specific engineering and construction, commensurate with size and sophistication.
Modulo-Béton, of France, has developed the patented Modulo Centre, modular depots using pre-cast concrete building pieces that can be assembled to build above-grade depots.
Remember playing with Lego as a kid, putting together modular pieces, limited only by your imagination? The Modulo-Béton offers the
typically made from asphalt or concrete. Once the base is completed, the assembly of the depot begins, which can typically be accomplished between two and five days. With a few final finishing touches such as railings and splash guards, the depot is ready to operate. The client can add options such as heated floors.
The depots, which can be suitable for small or large municipalities, are modular and can be expanded and changed as required to accom-modate additional recycling streams, or even picked up and moved to another location. The Modulo Centre allows flexibility that other fixed systems do not allow.
Within just six years of being launched, more than 200 of these facilities have been constructed, mostly throughout Europe (and more recently in Africa and Asia). Ideally they’re built close to residential areas to stimulate recycling.
A 2012 Dutch government document on how to recycle 65 per cent of household waste recognized that a well laid out and organized re-cycling depot is critical in attracting a variety of recyclables for which curbside programs are inefficient.
In Lelystad, a city of about 70,000 in the Netherlands, the old re-
same opportunity, on grander (and grown up) scale.
The key blocks or modular building pieces are 3 x 4 metres and 3 x 3 metres with heights ranging from 90 cm to 300 cm. The pieces include two walls and a flat top surface (essentially creating a concrete table). Each block is like an engineered “macro” waiting to be assembled into whatever configuration. They can be laid end-to-end and side-to-side to form the raised driving surface and platform of the depot. Ramps are used to allow vehicles to get to the platform. They can be assembled in the configuration that suits the site and municipal needs. They can also be fitted with heated driving surfaces as may be required in our cold climate and safety fencing.
Because the building blocks are built from load-bearing reinforced (and locally manufactured) concrete, it provides a unique and critical advantage over other above-grade depots. The space below the main platform is entirely usable. Its use is also only limited by one’s imagina-tion: consider office space, equipment and recyclables storage. It can eliminate the need for outbuildings.
To build a depot the customer develops a design and footprint for the depot. Because the units have no subsurface foundations, only ground works are typically required for drainage and surfacing. The base is
The Modulo Béton centres allow a rapid flow-through of vehicles and also improves the ease of dumping various recoverable materials into bins.
cycling depot was replaced with a new 22-container-bay Modulo Béton facility in 2010. Over a number of weeks the old depot was dismantled and the groundwork for the new facility completed.
The upgraded depot design results in a more rapid flow-through of vehicles and also improves the ease of dumping various recoverable ma-terials into bins. As the author’s cousin (and Lelystad resident) notes, it’s a “handy place” to leave all manner of separated recyclables. The key advantages of the Lelystad facility are: easy to access and use; better sorting of recyclables; improved cost control (from better screening of incoming waste to prevent the receipt of unauthorized commercial and out-of-town waste — residents can get a pass to enter the facility.
In Canada, Scotiabank is supporting the lease of these facilities, soft costs included. Modulo has recently sold its first system in Canada to EastForest Homes, a large residential developer and home builder in Kitchener, Ontario, for one of its construction sites. A completion of the development project, the depot can be moved for use at the next development site, making it an asset rather than a liability that needs to be cleaned up.