Refuse and Recycling Blog

How Landfills Work

Posted on Tue, Sep 10, 2013 @ 03:56 PM

You may wonder what occurs in landfills once your garbage is removed from your home. A lot of preparation, planning and money gets put into providing and maintaining landfills, and although they are essentially piles of waste, landfills are a quality option for waste disposal. 

Landfills vs. Dumps

There is a common misconception that landfills and dumps are the same thing, but that is not the case. Dumps are holes in the earth which are then buried with waste. These mounds often become homes to mice, rats and other kinds of animals.

landfill

Landfills are specifically designed and built to isolate waste from the surrounding environment to deter any content from coming into contact with groundwater, air or rain. The layer that separates the waste from the environment is often refreshed daily with soil. Sanitary landfills use clay for the separation and solid waste landfills use plastic liners. Although the separation is an important element to protecting the environment, this process does make the waste harder to decompose.

The Process of Landfills

Once the waste arrives at a landfill, it is separated and put into a place with similar items. For example, paper, plastics and chemicals.  It will then continue to be buried until the waste eventually fully decomposes which takes a significant amount of time. However, the health and ethics behind landfills exceed far beyond what one could expect from a pile of waste, and the jobs of decomposition is still completed, only slower.
 
Landfills are not only a place for waste to be trashed. Proper preparation, time and planning is put into place for each landfill to ensure that the quality of life and the environment is not sacrificed during the decomposing process.

Photo credit: Gengiskanhg

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