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Landfills

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Did you know tips

When a landfill is closed, the site, especially the groundwater, must be maintained and monitored for up to 30 years!

Did you know tips

Smart Tips

July 29, 2009

Landfills

How much trash can we bury?
Landfills don't have a garbage fairy,
It's time to lend a helping hand,
Reduce your waste and take a stand.

Landfilled to the Brim

It seems like we all know the trash man's schedule; however, it's an entirely different story when it comes to knowing exactly where our trash goes or what actually happens to it. In the U.S., about 32.5% of solid waste is recycled, 12.5% is burned, and 55% is buried in landfills. The use of landfills has doubled since the 1960s creating a huge, smelly problem. Let's get to know the modern-day landfill.

  • Landfills are built into or on top of the ground. Trash is isolated from the surrounding groundwater, air, and rain by a bottom liner and a daily covering of soil.
  • Landfills are designed to bury trash not break it down. With little oxygen and moisture available, garbage decomposes extremely slowly. For example, 40-year-old newspapers with easily readable print have been excavated from landfills.
  • It's important to remember that some materials may be banned from disposal in municipal solid waste landfills and shouldn't be placed in your trash can. This includes paints, cleaners/chemicals, motor oil, batteries, pesticides, household appliances such as window air conditioners and refrigerators, and other dangerous/ toxic products.
  • Practice the "Three R's" in your home to reduce the ever-growing municipal solid waste stream at the source. Landfills can, do, and will fill up quickly and be forced to close.

Check It Out

E.P.A. Guidelines for Waste Disposal at Municipal Solid Waste Landfills: http://www.epa.gov/
E.P.A. Tips on Reducing and Handling Your Waste: http://www.epa.gov/
A Simple At-Home Experiment to See How Landfills Work: http://cwmi.css.cornell.edu

 

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