North Shore Waste Unveils Waste Improvement Program for Cook County

Mack's Electric Garbage Truck

On Monday, September 19, North Shore Waste, a solid waste management company in Grand Marais, unveiled its plans to improve the efficiency and environmental impact of Cook County’s waste management facilities and operations. A featured guest at the announcement was a 100% electric garbage truck that the firm will test drive on Tuesday to collect trash on its regular routes in Grand Marais.

The Cook County Solid Waste Improvement Program is a five-year initiative spearheaded by North Shore Waste. The firm plans to utilize solar energy and electric vehicles to power its work in the future, mitigating the impact of rising fuel costs on Cook County residents and businesses while reducing the environmental impact of current operations.

North Shore Waste has provided commercial and residential trash collection services to Cook County since 2012. Owners Barry Pederson and Dustin Hanson recognize that their customers are environmentally conscious and this plan will enhance environmental protection while recognizing the growth of the area.

Hanson says that the single biggest expense in North Shore’s operation is fossil fuels. The spike in diesel prices this year put a tremendous strain on the business. Solid waste is transported daily in one of the firm's garbage trucks to Duluth, a 220-mile roundtrip, for furtherance to another landfill.

The first stage in the plan involves designing and building a large solar-powered transfer station on a recently acquired 11-acre piece of property located across the road from North Shore’s current facility. Preliminary designs for the south-facing building include a massive array of rooftop solar panels, an area for waste to be transferred to more efficient semis for movement to Duluth, and indoor parking for a planned fleet of electric vehicles.

Dustin Hanson 

In the second stage, the company intends to build a commercial composting operation. Hanson estimates that 30-40% of waste handled by his firm is compostable. Conservatively they have set a goal to remove 20% of the waste they collect and compost it, creating a new source of black dirt, a rare commodity in rocky Cook County. This will also reduce the amount of waste exported out of the county.

In the third stage, the firm will transition its fleet to electric vehicles, reducing the financial burden of spiking fossil fuel costs.

The all-electric truck they are test-driving was built by Mack Trucks, a division of the Sweden-based conglomerate The Volvo Group. The truck was built in a Mack factory near Allentown, PA. On hand to answer questions about the vehicle was Steven Waller of Nuss Truck & Equipment of Duluth, a Mack Truck dealership.

Volvo is a worldwide leader in electric vehicles with more than a decade of building electric buses for transit companies in the United Kingdom. Waller said, “Mack has two large refuse proofs of concept under its belt.” One is the largest sanitation company in the US, New York City’s Department of Sanitation. The other is a residential recycling route operated by Republic Services in Hickory, NC.

In addition to building and selling vehicles, the Volvo Group can provide consulting services to waste management firms as they work with funding sources and local governments.

Hanson and Pederson estimate it will take up to five years to completely convert their fleet to all-electric vehicles.

North Shore is working with Northland Consulting Engineers and architect RW Fern, both in Duluth, to develop and finalize plans for the new transfer station. No date has been set to begin construction.

Currently, North Shore employs six people year-round in addition to the two owners who are very active in the business. Pederson expects that after the transfer station and composting station are completed they will need to add more personnel to the team.

Both men anticipate continued growth in Cook County in the years to come, and they recognize there will be changes in their customers’ expectations.

Hanson says their goal is to create an environmentally friendly business that is sustainable for the next 50 years.


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