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Landfills: An Unsustainable Form of Waste Management

March 11, 2014

People produce waste.

It’s a fact of life.

Whether that waste is produced at home or in a business setting, it’s still waste, and it’s still produced–and it’s our responsibility to do something about it.

Luckily, there are several waste-management options from which to choose–some more environmentally friendly than others. Overall, there are four main waste management technologies: landfills, recycling, composting, and incineration.

Let’s take a look at landfills. One of the most common forms of waste management, landfills are large holes carved into the ground that are lined with clay and plastic to hold waste. As of 2009, there were roughly 30,000 landfills in the United States.

While common, landfills pose a number of problems–many of them significant. Methane and carbon dioxide, for example, are often released by landfills into the air. Methane is particularly problematic, as it is up to 20 times more effective than carbon dioxide in terms of trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Landfills don’t just releases gases, either; they release liquids. The most potent of these, perhaps, is leachate, which can contaminate underground water sources. The EPA requires that landfill workers capture and dispose of leachate using leachate pumps, but there are numerous closed or abandoned landfills that still emit this harmful liquid.

In addition, landfills require large amounts of land space–millions of acres both in the United States and worldwide. When landfills reach their capacity, there are but two options: one, make them bigger, or two, simply build more. Unfortunately, all landfills will eventually reach their capacity, and when they do, they don’t disappear; they remain full of our waste.

Essentially, a landfill is a large, full trash bag that just sits in your kitchen. As more bags accumulate, your kitchen will become full and inhospitable. Thus, landfills pose several direct and indirect problems to our society and will need to be monitored by the EPA for years to come. In short, they are not a sustainable form of waste management, as future generations will have to address the landfill problem that we are creating today.

As a result, recycling is always a better option than landfills when it comes to waste management, especially since virtually any form of waste can be recycled.

Need Help? Call us at 800-936-2311

Please contact Hazardous Waste Experts for more information on the benefits of recycling and to find out how your business can set up programs to properly dispose of waste in environmentally friendly ways. Call us today at 800-936-2311.

Disposal of hazardous waste doesn’t have to be painful.