Landfills are areas of land or excavated sites which have been carefully designed into or above the ground. When the trash is taken to a landfill, it usually ends up sealed in the ground. Trash decomposition is not much or none existent since there’s no way for air and water to get in.
Landfills produce leachate, a type of toxic liquid that is made up of a mixture of rainwater, dissolved chemicals and organic acids. This toxic element can contaminate waterways and surrounding land.
It is said that 55 percent of rubbish ends up getting buried in landfills while 33 percent ends up at recycling centers and 12.5 percent are taken to incinerators.
When the trash is taken to an incinerator, it undergoes a burning process where it is transformed into ash. The latter is then used to make parking lots or roads. At times, the end product is also dumped in landfills.
Volume of Rubbish
In Canada, people generate around 31 million tonnes of garbage annually and recycle only around 30 percent of rubbish. Individually, each person produces around 2.7 kilos of rubbish a day.
In the U.S., people generate almost 300 million tons of rubbish in a year with 4.6 pounds of rubbish disposed by each person each day.
The U.K. generates over 100 million tonnes of garbage every year with every single tonne carrying similar weight of a small car.
In Australia, people generate almost 41 million tonnes of rubbish every year. Half of this number is either sent to landfills where recycling is not possible or they are dumped in the environment.
Rubbish That Ends Up In Landfills
Discarded paper is believed to make up the largest proportion of solid waste in landfills. It is one type of rubbish item that stays in landfills for as long as 80 years before it breaks down. Other rubbish items that take several years to break down or disintegrate naturally include aluminum (500 years), tin cans (100 years), glass (1 million years) and plastic (1 million years).
Landfills can also contain other types of discarded items such as yard trimmings, wood, textiles, leather, rubber and food scraps.
Most of the paper that has been discarded can be recovered and then re-used for making recycled paper products and other purposes. New products that can be produced after recycling include office paper, catalogs, magazines, books and newspapers.
When paper is not recovered, it poses high environmental and economic costs.
Why Recycling Can Help
Recycling can bring a number of benefits. These include:
- conserving natural resources
- saving huge amount of water and energy during a production process
- cutting greenhouse gases
- extending landfill life
- protecting land and waterways
- saving the lives of marine animals
How To Produce Less Trash
There are certain things we can do to produce less trash and therefore save the environment.
- Buy recycled and recyclable items.
- Buy fewer things.
- Purchase items that have less packaging.
- Donate used items.