Sustainable Living | 16th Jun, 2013

The problem with landfill

Landfill sites are pretty ugly. And it’s not just the sight of increasing piles of waste that’s the problem. There are many negative issues associated with landfill.

The three most important problems with landfill are toxins, leachate and greenhouse gases.

Toxins

Many materials that end up as waste contain toxic substances. Over time, these toxins leach into our soil and groundwater, and become environmental hazards for years. Electronic waste is a good example. Waste such as televisions, computers and other electronic appliances contain a long list of hazardous substances, including mercury, arsenic, cadmium, PVC, solvents, acids and lead.

Read more about e-waste and computers here.

Leachate

Leachate is the liquid formed when waste breaks down in the landfill and water filters through that waste. This liquid is highly toxic and can pollute the land, ground water and water ways.

Greenhouse gas

When organic material such as food scraps and green waste is put in landfill, it is generally compacted down and covered. This removes the oxygen and causes it to break down in an anaerobic process. Eventually this releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The implications for global warming and climate change are enormous. Methane is also a flammable gas that can become dangerous if allowed to build up in concentration. Composting your food scraps and green waste in a compost bin eliminates many of these problems.

Apart from the financial costs, garbage buried in landfill breaks down at a very slow rate and remains a problem for future generations.

Read more about organic waste here.

 

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