Landfill is an area of land which is used to dump unrecyclable (and sometimes recyclable) waste materials.
Landfill sites exist all over the UK, and all over the world. Some sites practice ‘landraising’ (piling the rubbish directly on the ground), and some practice ‘landfilling’ (filling a hole in the ground with the rubbish). The rubbish in these piles is a mixture of household and commercial waste.
The household waste on landfill consists of mostly organic waste and plastics, and the commercial waste is primarily inert rubbish such as rubble, bricks, soil, and concrete. The inert waste is often used to build roads onsite, and then to cover the site over when it is full. Once the site has been covered and has been made ‘safe’, the area can then be repurposed, but there are heavy restrictions in place regarding this.
So, why is landfill bad for the environment?
Landfills are the earliest form of waste management, however in the modern day we have come to realise that these sites aren’t good for our planet. Below is a list of the reasons why:
- Landfill is expensive for taxpayers, and I’m sure we can all agree that our hard-earned money could be better spent than on piling our toxic rubbish into the ground, when the process could be avoided altogether.
- High levels of methane gas and CO2 are generated by the rotting rubbish in the ground. These are greenhouse gases, which contribute greatly to the process of global warming.
- Many toxic substances end up on landfill, which leech into the earth and groundwater over time. This creates a huge environmental hazard. Substances could include (but certainly aren’t limited to): arsenic, mercury, PVC, acids, lead, and home cleaning chemicals. Leachate – the toxic liquid formed when water filters through landfill waste – can easily contaminate our waterways.
- Landfills present a very real fire risk due to the gases they create. Methane is the main gas created, and it is also highly combustible. If a fire does occur, firefighters will often use a fire-retardant foam instead of water to fight the fire, due to the fact they don’t know what chemicals they are dealing with – further adding to the chemical footprint of the landfill site.
- Landfills trap waste underground with little oxygen, and so even waste that would usually decompose quickly, such as fruit and vegetables, will take a long time to do so in landfill. Some materials in landfill will take over a million years to break down! Throughout this time, the landfill will be releasing undesirable and dangerous gases, meaning the area will have to be managed forever to ensure there is no excessive pollution or urgent issues.
Forge Skip Hire & landfill
Having read about the downsides of landfill, you will be pleased to hear that here at Forge Skip Hire we are passionate about avoiding landfill. We meticulously sort through all of our skip waste, and recycle absolutely everything we possibly can. The waste that remains is burnt to create energy, meaning nothing is sent to landfill.
Featured image credit: PN Photo