Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Construction begins at Dane County's award-winning landfill

September 08, 2014
Melanie Conklin, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 635-5796
County Executive


Two kinds of green: This project saves tax dollars, avoids battles and  

highlights Dane County’s environmental success in the world of waste


MADISON – Permits are in place and construction is now underway at Dane County’s Rodefeld landfill. And while the tale revolves around trash and dirt,  it is a sweet-smelling success story and part of a fiscally and environmentally sound solid-waste strategy in Dane County.


“Two years ago, Dane County was facing the expensive and often-contentious process of siting a new landfill. Instead, bulldozers are now breaking ground on an expansion that will save taxpayers millions of dollars,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.  “And we also have a partnership with local communities and the private sector that ensures long-term financial viability.”


One of the most environmentally innovative landfills in the nation.

This expansion project continues the Dane County’s impressive track-record of innovative work that will continue to set the Rodefeld landfill apart as a leader in environmental conservation. (The EPA recognized it for a 2011 Project of the Year Award for turning landfill methane gas into vehicle fuel.)


“Look closely amid all this construction dirt and you will see numerous cost savings, as well as  innovations that help combat climate change,” County Exec Joe Parisi said. “Dane County is home to  one of the most environmentally innovative landfills in the country and this expansion makes it even more green and saves taxpayers green  too.”


Parisi thanked Dane County Board supervisors, the City of Madison, Dane County’s Public Works staff, waste-hauler Pellitteri and the Town of Cottage Grove for this partnership. The state Department of Natural Resources approved the final construction permit in August.



Important facts on the landfill & expansion.

  • The expansion that is underway will cost $20 million and extend the life of the landfill for another 30 years.Siting a new landfill would have cost more than $100 million and taken nearly a decade to develop. The process would have been contentious and could have resulted in the loss of at least 200 acres of prime farmland.


  • Clean energy innovation to combat climate change grows in this project.


  • The expansion allows the county to nearly double its production of renewable energy from decaying trash at the Rodefeld facility. The landfill currently generates $3.3 million in electricity annually that is purchased by MGE. (Enough to power 4,000 homes.)
  • Methane from the landfill being burned to generate electricity is a very potent greenhouse gas that is a key contributor to global climate change (20 times stronger than CO2). 
  • The landfill turns decaying trash into cleaner, cheaper, homegrown compressed natural gas that powers more than 40 vehicles in thecounty fleet.


  • The expansion will generate energy that will eventually heat the nearby medical examiner’s building and the Dane County highway garage when they are built.


  • The expansion builds on the successful pilot project that encourages garbage to decay faster.  Leachate (liquid from garbage) is recirculated back through the landfill to increase the speed of decay, thus saving space, generating more power and stabilizing the landfill more quickly.


  • Other parts of Dane County’s comprehensive solid waste strategy include a new year-round Clean Sweep facility to keep hazardous chemicals and unwanted electronics from filling up the landfill and diverting and recycling construction debris.



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