9.4  Transfer stations

Most of the collection vehicles shown in Table 9.1 can only really transport the waste a short distance – a few kilometres at most. On the other hand, most of those shown in Table 9.2 are too large to collect waste from crowded urban areas and/or too expensive for most of Ethiopia. So unless the disposal site is less than around 3 km from the urban centre, the waste needs to be taken off the primary collection vehicle and loaded onto secondary collection vehicles. This is done at a transfer station. Waste can also be stored at a transfer station for a short time period where, in some cases, recyclable material is extracted from the mixed waste.

Transfer stations should be located conveniently close to all the communities they serve, but not too close to people’s homes or factories, schools, hospitals, etc. so that they cause a nuisance. They should also have access to major roads leading to the treatment or disposal sites.

Transfer stations have many advantages:

  • They reduce the overall traffic levels by using fewer but larger-capacity vehicles, which reduces traffic congestion and pollution.
  • If primary collection vehicles have to drive longer distances to the disposal site they are more likely to be tempted to save time by illegally dumping the waste at the side of the road. Transfer stations prevent this happening.
  • In areas with a low population density it is cheaper to have a transfer station that incorporates short-term storage of the waste. Small carts can deposit their waste here daily and a larger vehicle can transport the stored waste to the disposal site every few days.
  • Consolidating the waste into fewer vehicles reduces vehicle wear, the need for maintenance and fuel consumption.
  • Waste can be screened so that recyclable items or inappropriate waste (like tyres and vehicle batteries, which should not go to a landfill) can be taken out.
  • Transfer stations reduce traffic at the disposal facility. Since fewer vehicles go to the final disposal site, traffic congestion can be avoided, the cost of operation can be minimised and public safety is improved.

9.3  Primary and secondary collection

9.4.1  Types of transfer station