Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority

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        Then . . .     And Now . . .


In 1957, the Regional Planning Commission conducted a study of refuse practices in Lebanon County. They found 8 refuse disposal sites. An evaluation of the existing sites was performed, including a hydrological study. The results of the study showed that 7 of the 8 site were unacceptable disposal sites because of technical conditions, unsightly or unsanitary operations. All of the sites, except for this one, were closed.

In 1959, a group of political subdivisions joined forces and formed the Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority (GLRA), which is responsible for managing Lebanon County's waste. The Authority is comprised of one appointed representative from each of the 26 municipalities in Lebanon County. The GLRA is the only legal disposal facility in the County. This came about when individual municipalities adopted ordinances to regulate waste disposal practices because of problems associated with road side dumping.
When the landfill first opened in 1959, it was open six days a week, 10 hours a day (Monday-Saturday) and received a 100 cubic yards of waste per day at 35 cents per cubic yard. Today, the landfill is open six days a week, 9 hours a day (Monday - Friday), 4 hours on (Saturday), and receives approximately 320 tons of waste per day at $65.25 per ton.

Scale House


The scale house opened in 1989. Haulers are required to "weigh" in at the scale house upon entering the landfill with a load. An average of 320 tons/day is brought to the landfill, there is a maximum allowance of 1100 tons/day. Approximately 100,000 tons are landfilled each year and it all weighs in at the scale house.

Sanitary Landfill Liners

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Currently there are seven lined cells (pads) located on the landfill. Pad 1 opened in August 1991 and reached capacity in late 1996. The liner system of Pad 1 is composed of nine layers:
Pad 2 and Pad 3 were constructed in 1995. Pad 2 opened in October 1995 and Pad 3 January 1999. Pad 2 and Pad 3 combined have a life expectancy of 6 to 8 years. Both of these pads were constructed of six layers:
Pad 4 and Pad 6 were constructed in 2001. Pad 4 opened in October 2001 and Pad 6 opened in September 2003. Pad 4 and Pad 6 have a combined life expectancy of 10 years. Both of these pads were also constructed of six layers:

Pad 5 and Pad 7 were constructed in 2007. Pad 5 opened in July 2008 and Pad 7 will be opened for future use when needed. Pad 5 and Pad 7 have a combined life expectancy of 15 years. Both of these pads were constructed of five layers:

    •  1/4" Claymax (Bentonite Clay inside 2 fabrics)
    •  60 mil High Density Polyethylene Liner
       (May be either smooth or textured depending on how resistant to slipping the design required, and resistant to tears, chemicals, and punctures)
    •  1 Layers of Geocomposite Net-Drainage Netting; netting with fabric on the top and bottom  
    •  60 mil High Density Polyethylene Liner
    •  16 oz Geotextile Fabric (non-woven)
    •  18" of 1/2" stone containing a Network of leachate collection pipes
    •  COST: $330,000 per acre just to build these sites

All the material arrives on the site in rolls of different width. The Claymax layer is overlapped when placed. The fabric pieces in the Geotexile layer are sewn together with portable sewing machines. The polyethylene liner is seamed with a portable hot welder which, using heat and pressure together, joins the pieces together in an extremely strong "fusion weld".


Water Monitoring

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Water monitoring is a constant process at the GLRA. Water samples are taken at various locations on landfill property. Certain private water supplies of landowners adjacent to the landfill are also tested. Samples are taken daily, monthly, quarterly, and annually at various locations. Currently, tests are completed at 41 monitoring wells, 12 surface locations and 12 contiguous landowners. Water quality samples are analyzed and reports are kept on file. Through efficient monitoring, the GLRA can record any changes in the quality of ground water and surface water sources. Most importantly, sampling ensures that water is clean and not contaminated by landfill leachate.

Landfill Gas-to-Energy Facility



LMOP Award Winner image

Click on Trophy Above to Learn More! 


EPA Recognizes Clean Energy Initiatives for Turning Landfills into Community Assets and Cutting Greenhouse Gases

Communty Partner of the Year

Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority and PPL Energy Landfill Gas Energy Project



A significant by-product of waste decomposition is landfill gas, which is similar to natural gas. This gas is comprised primarily of methane, carbon dioxide and balance gases. The primary component of landfill gas, methane, is odorless and highly flammable and requires special management practices by landfills. The "balance gases" are neither flammable nor odorless, and require similar management practices to control the smell.

The Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority, in cooperation with PPL Energy Services, currently has a collection program that burns landfill gas to produce electricity. What was originally a landfill hazard and a smelly problem is now a benefit to our integrated solid waste management system.

PPL Energy Services, a methane recovery facility located on GLRA's property, has been in operation since 2007. The facility generates an average of 3,200 kilowatts of electricity per hour by. This is enough to supply approximately 2,400 homes with electricity each day. PPL Energy Services vacuums the gas out of the Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority's landfills, burns the gas in an internal combustion engine to produce electricity, and sells the electricity to Met-Ed utilities. In return for the use of the gas by PPL Energy Services, the GLRA receives a royalty payment from the sale of the landfill gas. The vacuum the landfill gas-to-energy plant uses to collect the gas eliminates the problem of dangerous methane gas escaping from the landfill and at the same time it recycles a by-product of the landfill into an extremely valuable resource.

Methane is a by-product of the decomposition of garbage. It is odorless, colorless, potentially deadly and also explosive! In a new landfill, emitted gases contain 40-50% carbon dioxide, 40-50% chloride & hydrogen sulfide, and only 10% is methane. After 5 years, these percentages reverse.

The landfill gas is actively collected by placing a vacuum on the landfill. Gas wells are drilled into the wastes and collection pipes are assembled into a network. A blower, located at the generation facility, uses the vacuum side of the system to pull gas into the pipe system, and the discharge side of the system to push the gas into the generation plant, similar to the two sides of a household vacuum cleaner; one side sucking up, one side blowing out. The methane gas pulled into this network then enters a central pipe known as a "trunk line". The temperature of the gas is between 70 and 80 degrees when collected and as a result it picks up water as it travels through the trash and enters the collection network. This "wet" gas is swirled around in a scrubber tank where moisture is removed. Then the gas travels to two filter tanks which remove dirt and other particles. Finally, the gas is forced into two 2,200 horsepower Caterpillar engines and create electricity.

Each engine has two carburetors which control the amount of gas entering into the engines. Each engine and generator has separate controls. The engine supplies the power and when the engine is in synch with the generator, it produces electricity. The generator has an arm that goes around a magnetic field, creating friction and producing electricity.

As a secondary means of landfill gas management, the Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority has recently added a flaring unit to its landfill gas management program. In the event that PPL Energy Services is unable to operate its facility to produce electricity, the gas will be directed from the network of gas collection pipes to an "Enclosed Flare". The "Enclosed Flare" is so named because its burners are located at the base of a 40 foot high stack. The flare uses the flammable portion of landfill gas, methane, to destroy the balance gases that are the cause of landfill odors, controlling both the explosive issues and the odor issues with one operation. To accomplish this correctly the system is designed to burn at approximately 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit. To keep the unit operating correctly the temperature, landfill gas flow rate, and air flow to the burners are closely monitored. In the event that something goes wrong, the unit will automatically shut down and call GLRA Staff.  



For LIVE Power Generation Statistics

from  the Landfill Gas-to-Energy Facility

Renewable Energy Education Facility (REEF)


GLRA and PPL have partnered to develop a Renewable Energy Education Facility consisting of an educational building, a 1000 watt wind turbine, a 1000 watt solar array, and a 3200 kilowatt landfill gas-to-energy project at GLRA's facility on Russell Road in North Annville Township. PPL has installed and operates a wind turbine, a solar array and two Caterpillar powered generators fueled by GLRA's landfill gas. Landfill gas is a renewable resource that currently produces enough electricity to power 2,400 homes in Lebanon County. Most importantly, GLRA and PPL have partnered to provide Lebanon County's local schools, universities and the local community a working, educational forum for students from preschool to adult, teachers, professors, educators, engineers, scientists, environmentalists and future leaders of Pennsylvania to learn about the benefits of producing domestic, green and renewable power from landfill gas, wind and sun.

GLRA and PPL have constructed the Renewable Energy Education Facility which provides a side by side educational experience of how wind, solar and landfill gas can be combined in a mutually beneficial way. GLRA constructed the new building with a 480 square foot educational room and extended its existing landfill gas collection system to direct the captured methane gas and distribute it to PPL's Caterpillar engines. The Renewable Energy Education Facility has large viewing windows enabling visitors to see the working engines and various controls used in converting the GLRA's landfill gas into electricity. This project has been specifically designed for tours and community involvement to make it educational in every aspect.

With one specific goal in mind, the Renewable Energy Education Facility promotes the education of renewable energy as sustainable energy sources and technologies. By providing an educational setting with actual functioning sources of renewable energy to students, teachers, scientists, engineers, and the local community we are fulfilling our primary goal of promoting sustainable energy sources and fostering environmental education and stewardship. GLRA encourages our collective responsibility as environmental stewards through the promotion of environmental education. If you are interested in visiting our Renewable Energy Education Facility to learn about the importance of sustainable energy sources of green energy, please contact GLRA at 867-5790.


Pre-Treatment Facility


Leachate from the lined landfill is collected by a network of leachate collection pipes that were placed on the liner. Leachate may be pumped to a one million gallon storage tank before going to the Lebanon City Sewage Treatment Plant.  The leachate from the unlined landfill areas is effectively treated via a natural aquatic life treatment system (wetlands) located on the landfill property.

Natural Aquatic Life Treatment System (NALTS)

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The process of using wetlands to treat landfill leachate is both environmentally and economically effective. Located on GLRA property is a series of 14 ponds that are used to treat leachate. Leachate is the liquid that oozes out of a landfill, also known as garbage juice.
Vegetation around these ponds, cattails and water lilies, thrive on the nutrients in leachate and purify the water as it slowly flows through the pond system. Aerators have been placed in a couple of the ponds. These machines mix the water and add air to give the water a higher dissolved oxygen level, this keeps the bacteria strong. These bacteria feed on the organics in leachate to naturally decompose the liquid refuse. It takes about a month for the leachate to travel from the first pond to the discharge point at which the water is clean and the quality is high.
Wetlands also provide an excellent wildlife habitat. GLRA's ponds are home to a wide diversity of animals throughout the year. The authority also uses a combination of native warm-season grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and other plants to help with the natural decomposition process and to create a productive wildlife habitat. Animals that have made a home on GLRA's treatment ponds include turtles, snakes, egrets, blue heron, ring-necked pheasants, bluebirds, geese, ducks, red winged blackbirds, muskrats, rabbits, red fox, deer, and a variety of other wildlife.
The Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority has become a role model landfill because of its innovative natural wetland treatment system. The Authority has received numerous awards and national recognition for its economically and environmentally pleasing answer to the problem of leachate refuse.

Recycling Area

Please click on the "recycling at glra" link at the bottom of the page.

Electronics Recycling Facility (ERF)


Under the Covered Device Recycling Act (Act 108 of 2010), electronics have been banned from landfill disposal in Pennsylvania.  Beginning January 24, 2013, no person may dispose of a covered device or any of its components with their municipal solid waste. These devices and their components must be properly recycled and may not be taken to, nor accepted by, landfills for disposal.

The Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority operates an Electronics Recycling Facility for Lebanon County residents and small businesses. The facility is located behind the plant bedding and wood mulch loading area. Follow the signs on Russell Road to the entrance of the Electronics Recycling Facility. Electronics are FREE to drop off. There are NO CHARGES and NO FEES for electronics. A GLRA License is NOT required.

The facility’s hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The entrance gate closes PROMPTLY at 3:30 p.m. Weekdays and 11:30 a.m. Saturdays.

See the complete list of acceptable materials on the Start Page. If it is not on the list, then it is not acceptable.

No assistance will be given to unload. You must be able to unload materials safely and properly. If that requires bringing 2 or 3 individuals along to unload an oversized item, then you must do so.

Individuals and small businesses with 10 or more computers and televisions or pick-up truck loads of mixed electronics must call in advance to schedule a specific time to bring in larger quantities. Larger quantities will not be accepted and will be turned away unless an appointment has been scheduled first through the County Recycling Coordinator. Please contact the County Recycling Coordinator at 867-5790 Extension 307 to schedule an appointment.


Compost Area

Please click on the "county composts" link at the bottom of the page.

Borrow Areas


The borrow areas are a very important part of the landfill. Every day soil is excavated from these sites for various purposes. Soil is used as a daily cover, intermediate cover, and final cover for garbage in the landfill. A daily cover of soil is spread on the working face of the landfill to hold trash down and keep pests away. An intermediate cover is used on a lift which is an 8-10 ft layer of trash. Lifts are small cells separated on all sides by an intermediate layer of soil. The final cover is the layer of soil that goes on top of the landfill when it has reached capacity. Borrow areas also provide soil for the purpose of building the many dirt roads that are associated with the landfill.

Union Canal Walking Trail


To further demonstrate its commitment to the environment and community, the GLRA has constructed a walking trail on the landfill property. This trail is about 1.25 miles encompassing forest, farmland and three locks of the historic Union Canal.  The Union Canal operated in the 1800's as a waterway transportation through the Lebanon Valley.
The walking trail project initially began with the planting of trees along the Union Canal. Today the trail can be walked in either direction from the parking area just south of the GLRA Main Office located at 1610 Russell Road. 

There is an encased map and a holder for informational brochures mounted on a red storage shed located at the Main Office parking area at 1610 Russell Road.  Austin Heller, a neighbor to GLRA, and his father, Russ Heller, constructed these visual aids as well as the map and brochures of the Union Canal Walking Trail as part of a community service project.  The brochure provides information on the Union Canal and contact information for the Lebanon County Historical Society and GLRA.

The scenic loop runs along pasture, wooded areas, the canal and farmland.   The trail is ideal for youngsters with views of cattle, crops, the Union Canal and GLRA's landfill facility.  Along with its recreational uses, the site is also used to demonstrate GLRA's pledge to community and environmental well-being.

For more information on the Union Canal and its history, click on this link

Click here for the Walking Trail History Brochure in PDF format.



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