Innovation Environmental Park - a new concept in the way our county handles the garbage we throw away every day!


Some people say… “This is only a landfill”. How is Innovation Environmental Park different?

A component within Innovation Environmental Park (IEP) will include a waste disposal site, commonly referred to as a landfill. IEP is a resource recovery facility for non-hazardous solid waste, such as the garbage that leaves your house every day. It is essential to have a place on site to dispose of the excess which cannot be recovered through composting, re-manufacturing and reprocessing within the Park. The goal of IEP is to only dispose of 25% or less of the materials brought into the Park.

What is a Resource Recovery Facility?

A resource recovery facility receives non-hazardous solid waste, such as wood, plastics, paper, metal, and other reusable materials. These materials are then re-manufactured into products which can be shipped around the world to be sold again. The facility will also recover organic materials, such as yard waste, grass clippings, tree limbs, etc. which will be used in the IEP composting facility.

What kind of solid waste will be processed at the Park?

Non-hazardous solid waste which is produced by citizens and businesses in Polk County. This includes items that are discarded every day, such as newspaper, glass containers, metal cans, cardboard boxes, Styrofoam, mattresses, and food waste.

Define Class I non-hazardous solid waste?

Non-hazardous waste is commonly known as trash, garbage, or municipal solid waste which is generated by households and businesses during their daily activities. For more information on this type of solid waste, individuals can check out:

Why just 75% recycling? Why not recycle everything?

Most experts agree 75% recycling is achievable with present technology. Innovation does not intend to stop at 75%. However, advances in technology need to be made to recycle more of the waste stream. That is why IEP is committed to research and development within the Park.

What type of recycling does the Polk County landfill conduct?

Polk County’s recycling is handled by a private vendor who is selected through a bidding process. The recycling program in the county is limited to the processing facility. Nothing is re-manufactured onsite, so even in the event materials are removed from the site, those materials and potential jobs are sent out of our county. Polk County’s recycling collection program can only recycle materials that have been sorted at the curb by citizens. Polk County presently recycles approximately 20%, according to the Florida of Environmental Protection (FDEP) records.

Is there a composting area within IEP?

Yes. Unfortunately, large quantities of food and other composting materials are thrown away every day. Therefore, a large area within IEP will be used for compositing activities. Some of this material will be bagged and sold commercially, while the remaining amount will be used on site within the IEP nursery operation.

What about odors from the processing and composting?

The composting and processing facilities are located on the most isolated parts of the 1,700-acre Park. Properly operated processing and composting facilities seldom emit strong odors. A key component of properly operating such facilities is the availability of earthen materials to add to the process stream and to provide cover for processed material. The IEP site benefits from the surplus of clay and sand material located on site. In addition, NOAA direction and speed tables (Climatic Wind Data) show for ten months out of the year the prevailing winds are from the east or east- northeast which is away from the nearest communities and in the direction of the New Wales facility. Click here to see Chart.

Why does Innovation Environmental Park require a landfill component?

A significant problem in most recycling operations is the small fraction of waste which cannot be re-used. At the IEP site, this excess will be safely disposed of on site. Although permanent burial of non-usable waste material is a process of last resort, it is still often necessary for unusable components in the waste stream. Innovation’s “One-Touch” Approach to handling recyclable materials also applies to the disposal of non-usable materials. Transporting non-usable materials multiple times or over great distances makes an operation uneconomical. Therefore, a location onsite for non-usable materials is a necessity.

How have you addressed environmental concerns with regards to threatened or endangered species on site?

Southeastern Environmental Service and its principle ecologist, Fred Crabill, were retained to review potential impacts to threatened or endangered species. Fred Crabill is recognized statewide for his expertise in assessing environmental impacts of a project. From his report he has determined no wildlife impacts for endangered species will occur on the IEP site by the construction and development of IEP. Click here to read Fred Crabill's report. In addition, Tim King from the Florida Department of Fish and Game who also reviewed the site, concluded no wildlife impacts for endangered species will occur on the IEP site. Click here to read Tim King’s letter.

How have you addressed the concerns of ground water contamination?

Gurr and Associates and principal hydro-geologist, Mike Gurr, P.G. have reviewed the geological and hydro-geological conditions of the site and reported on the ground water flow patterns. The report from Gurr and Associates concludes the IEP site is appropriate for the facilities proposed. The report also shows, due to the ground water flow pattern, there are no potential impacts to residential potable water supply wells within Polk County. In other words, IEP does not pose any threat whatsoever to the water people drink. Click here to read Mike Gurr's report.

What about all the traffic from trucks going into and out of the Park?

The main entrance to IEP is located on County Road 640 which will be improved to a Type IIII intersection. A Type IIII intersection will have turn lanes in both the east and west bound directions so through traffic will not be required to wait for vehicles entering the Park. No residential driveways are located within two miles of the entrance along County Road 640 in either direction. The State Road 37 truck traffic is limited due to the main entrance being along County Road 640 where the scale house is located.

How much revenue will Polk County lose when Innovation Environmental Park starts to receive waste?

IEP is not proposing to divert the waste which is currently being received by the Polk County landfill. Presently, the Polk County landfill is only operated as a Class I facility. Polk County citizens and businesses produce approximately 1.2 million tons of waste each year. Of this tonnage, the County Solid Waste division buries about 700,000 tons. The remaining waste is processed by private businesses inside and outside of Polk County. Our goal is to complement Polk County in its efforts to meet the recycling goals within our communities.

Will Polk County have to close the County landfill?

No. It is our hope the IEP recycling efforts will assist Polk County in maintaining the life and integrity of the County landfill. Presently, the County recycles approximately 20% according to FDEP. We envision working with the County to handle some of their recyclable material, such as glass, within the Park.

Polk County already has several landfills. Why do we need another one?

Currently, there are no waste processing facilities permitted in Polk County to recover resources from Class I waste.

What is the financial risk to Polk County and its citizens if IEP fails?

Under the Florida Administrative Code 62-701.630, financial assurance is the responsibility of the landowner, owner, or the operator of a municipal solid waste facility. FDEP requires financial assurance is met before any construction can take place. Polk County and its citizens would not have any financial liability for IEP.

Tom Mims has a background of supporting environmental issues. How does someone that supports environmental issues permit a landfill?

The landfill is one component of the environmental park. The goal of IEP is to become a national model for the re-processing, re-manufacturing and recycling of non-hazardous materials into products which can be shipped around the world for re-sale. Tom believes Innovation puts forth a commitment in terms of both financial and environmental stewardship to make a difference in recycling. He believes that until an environmental park is established where the synergies of recycling and re-manufacturing can take place, our country will never be in a position to actively preserve our natural resources.

What other landfill facilities around the country have the same concept?

Although other facilities have types of recycling, none have the complete synergies that complement the other with the sorting, processing and use of the materials. Innovation believes it will take the complete processing facilities to achieve 75% recycling. Based on research completed by IEP team members, no other facilities which house all the elements that bring the synergies together have been found in the country. Furthermore, within the State of Florida there are no permitted facilities such as IEP based on our inquiry from FDEP.

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