Landfill

Landfill

Overview
A landfill site is a site for the disposal of waste
Waste
Waste is unwanted or useless materials. In biology, waste is any of the many unwanted substances or toxins that are expelled from living organisms, metabolic waste; such as urea, sweat or feces. Litter is waste which has been disposed of improperly...

 materials by burial and is the oldest form of waste treatment. Historically, landfills have been the most common methods of organized waste disposal and remain so in many places around the world.

Landfills may include internal waste disposal sites (where a producer of waste carries out their own waste disposal at the place of production) as well as sites used by many producers.
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Encyclopedia
A landfill site is a site for the disposal of waste
Waste
Waste is unwanted or useless materials. In biology, waste is any of the many unwanted substances or toxins that are expelled from living organisms, metabolic waste; such as urea, sweat or feces. Litter is waste which has been disposed of improperly...

 materials by burial and is the oldest form of waste treatment. Historically, landfills have been the most common methods of organized waste disposal and remain so in many places around the world.

Landfills may include internal waste disposal sites (where a producer of waste carries out their own waste disposal at the place of production) as well as sites used by many producers. Many landfills are also used for waste management purposes, such as the temporary storage, consolidation and transfer, or processing of waste material (sorting, treatment, or recycling).

A landfill also may refer to ground that has been filled in with rocks
Rock (geology)
In geology, rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic...

 instead of waste materials, so that it can be used for a specific purpose, such as for building houses. Unless they are stabilized, these areas may experience severe shaking or liquefaction of the ground in a large earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

.

Operations



Typically, in non hazardous waste
Hazardous waste
A hazardous waste is waste that poses substantial or potential threats to public health or the environment. According to the U.S. environmental laws hazardous wastes fall into two major categories: characteristic wastes and listed wastes.Characteristic hazardous wastes are materials that are known...

 landfills, in order to meet predefined specifications, techniques are applied by which the wastes are:
  1. Confined to as small an area as possible.
  2. Compacted to reduce their volume.
  3. Covered (usually daily) with layers of soil.


During landfill operations the waste collection vehicles are weighed at a weighbridge
Truck scale
Truck scales or weigh bridges are large scales, usually mounted permanently on a concrete foundation, that are used to weigh entire vehicles and their contents. By weighing the vehicle both empty and when loaded, the load carried by the vehicle can be calculated...

 on arrival and their load is inspected for wastes that do not accord with the landfill’s waste acceptance criteria. Afterward, the waste collection vehicles use the existing road network on their way to the tipping face or working front where they unload their contents. After loads are deposited, compactor
Compactor
A compactor is a machine or mechanism used to reduce the size of waste material or soil through compaction. A trash compactor is often used by homes and businesses to reduce the volume of trash....

s or dozers are used to spread and compact the waste
Waste compaction
Waste compaction is the process of compacting waste. Compaction means to compress, condense or consolidate. It is often used to reduce the size of waste material. Garbage compactors and waste collection vehicles compress waste so that more of it can be stored in the same space...

 on the working face. Before leaving the landfill boundaries, the waste collection vehicles pass through a wheel cleaning facility. If necessary, they return to the weighbridge in order to be weighed without their load. Through the weighing process, the daily incoming waste tonnage can be calculated and listed in databases, In addition to trucks, some landfills may be equipped to handle railroad containers. The use of 'rail-haul' permits landfills to be located at more remote sites, without the problems associated with many truck trips.

Typically, in the working face, the compacted waste is covered with soil daily. Alternative waste-cover materials are several sprayed-on foam products and temporary blankets. Blankets can be lifted into place with tracked excavator
Excavator
Excavators are heavy construction equipment consisting of a boom, stick, bucket and cab on a rotating platform . The house sits atop an undercarriage with tracks or wheels. A cable-operated excavator uses winches and steel ropes to accomplish the movements. They are a natural progression from the...

s and then removed the following day prior to waste placement. Chipped wood and chemically 'fixed' bio-solids may also be used as an alternate daily cover. The space that is occupied daily by the compacted waste and the cover material is called a daily cell. Waste compaction is critical to extending the life of the landfill. Factors such as waste compressibility, waste layer thickness and the number of passes of the compactor over the waste affect the waste densities.

Impacts



A large number of adverse impacts may occur from landfill operations. infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 damage (e.g., damage to access roads by heavy vehicles); pollution
Pollution
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light...

 of the local environment
Natural environment
The natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth or some region thereof. It is an environment that encompasses the interaction of all living species....

 (such as contamination of groundwater
Groundwater
Groundwater is water located beneath the ground surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formations. A unit of rock or an unconsolidated deposit is called an aquifer when it can yield a usable quantity of water. The depth at which soil pore spaces or fractures and voids in rock...

 and/or aquifers by leakage or sinkholes and residual soil contamination
Soil contamination
Soil contamination or soil pollution is caused by the presence of xenobiotic chemicals or other alteration in the natural soil environment....

 during landfill usage, as well as after landfill closure); offgassing of methane
Methane
Methane is a chemical compound with the chemical formula . It is the simplest alkane, the principal component of natural gas, and probably the most abundant organic compound on earth. The relative abundance of methane makes it an attractive fuel...

 generated by decaying organic wastes (methane is a greenhouse gas
Greenhouse gas
A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone...

 many times more potent than carbon dioxide, and can itself be a danger to inhabitants of an area); harbouring of disease vectors such as rats and flies, particularly from improperly operated landfills, which are common in developing countries; injuries to wildlife
Wildlife
Wildlife includes all non-domesticated plants, animals and other organisms. Domesticating wild plant and animal species for human benefit has occurred many times all over the planet, and has a major impact on the environment, both positive and negative....

; and simple nuisance problems (e.g., dust, odour, vermin
Vermin
Vermin is a term applied to various animal species regarded by some as pests or nuisances and especially to those associated with the carrying of disease. Since the term is defined in relation to human activities, which species are included will vary from area to area and even person to person...

, or noise pollution
Noise pollution
Noise pollution is excessive, displeasing human, animal or machine-created environmental noise that disrupts the activity or balance of human or animal life...

).

Most modern landfills in industrialized countries are operated with controls to attempt to manage problems such as these. Analysis of common landfill operational problems are available.

Some local authorities have found it difficult to locate new landfills. Communities may charge a fee or levy in order to discourage waste and/or recover the costs of site operations. Many landfills are publicly funded, but some are commercial businesses
Business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

, operated for profit.

Regional practice





United Kingdom


Landfilling practices in the UK have had to change in recent years to meet the challenges of the European Landfill Directive
Landfill Directive
The Landfill Directive, more formally Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste, is a European Union directive issued by the European Union to be implemented by its member states....

. The UK now imposes landfill tax upon biodegradable waste
Biodegradable waste
Biodegradable waste is a type of waste, typically originating from plant or animal sources, which may be degraded by other living organisms. Waste that cannot be broken down by other living organisms are called non-biodegradable....

 which is put into landfills. In addition to this the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme
Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme
The Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme, LATS, is an initiative by the UK government, through DEFRA to help reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill.-How does it work?:...

 has been established for local authorities to trade landfill quotas in England. A different system operates in Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 where authorities are not able to 'trade' between themselves, but have allowances known as the Landfill Allowance Scheme.

In 2003, there were 254 licensed landfills in Scotland.

United States



In the U.S., landfills are regulated by the state's environmental agency that establishes minimum guidelines; however, none of these standards may fall below those set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

 (EPA); such as was the case with the Fresh Kills Landfill
Fresh Kills Landfill
The Fresh Kills Landfill was a landfill covering in the New York City borough of Staten Island in the United States. The name comes from the landfill's location along the banks of the Fresh Kills estuary in western Staten Island...

 in Staten Island
Staten Island
Staten Island is a borough of New York City, New York, United States, located in the southwest part of the city. Staten Island is separated from New Jersey by the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull, and from the rest of New York by New York Bay...

, which is claimed by many to be the world's largest landfill. The landfill has since been closed and is being transformed into a park.

Reclaiming materials


Landfills can be regarded as a viable and abundant source of materials and energy. In the developing world, this is widely understood and one may thus often find waste picker
Waste picker
A waste picker, recycler, rag picker, salvager, binner, informal resource recoverer, poacher, or a scavenger, is a person who salvages recyclable elements from mixed waste...

s scavenging for still usable materials. In a commercial context, landfills sites have also been discovered by companies and many have begun harvesting materials and energy . Well known examples are gas recovery facilities. Other commercial facilities include fossil fuel power plants and waste incinerators which have built-in material recovery. This material recovery is possible through the use of filters (electro filter, active carbon and potassium filter, quench, HCL-washer, SO2-washer, bottom ash-grating, etc.). An example of these is the AEB Waste Fired Power Plant. The AEB waste incinerator is hereby able to recover a large part of the burned waste in source materials. According to Marcel van Berlo (who helped build the plant), the processed waste contained higher percentages of source materials than any mine in the world. He also added that when the plant was compared to a Chilean copper mine, the waste fired plant could recover more copper.
However, because of the high concentration of gases and the unpredictability of the landfill contents, which often include sharp objects, landfill excavation is generally considered dangerous. Furthermore, the quality of materials residing within landfills tends to degrade and such materials are thought to be not worth the risks required to recover them.

Alternatives


The alternatives to landfills are waste reduction and recycling
Recycling
Recycling is processing used materials into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution and water pollution by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lower greenhouse...

 strategies.
Secondary to not creating waste, there are various alternatives to landfills. In the late 20th century, alternative methods of waste disposal to landfill and incineration
Incineration
Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials. Incineration and other high temperature waste treatment systems are described as "thermal treatment". Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas, and...

 have begun to gain acceptance. Anaerobic digestion
Anaerobic digestion
Anaerobic digestion is a series of processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. It is used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste and/or to release energy....

, composting, mechanical biological treatment
Mechanical biological treatment
A mechanical biological treatment system is a type of waste processing facility that combines a sorting facility with a form of biological treatment such as composting or anaerobic digestion...

, pyrolysis
Pyrolysis
Pyrolysis is a thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures without the participation of oxygen. It involves the simultaneous change of chemical composition and physical phase, and is irreversible...

 and plasma arc gasification have all began to establish themselves in the market.

In recent years, some countries, such as Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, and Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, have banned the disposal of untreated waste in landfills. In these countries, only the ashes from incineration
Incineration
Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials. Incineration and other high temperature waste treatment systems are described as "thermal treatment". Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas, and...

 or the stabilized output of mechanical biological treatment
Mechanical biological treatment
A mechanical biological treatment system is a type of waste processing facility that combines a sorting facility with a form of biological treatment such as composting or anaerobic digestion...

 plants may still be deposited.

See also



  • Bioreactor landfill
    Bioreactor landfill
    Landfills are the primary method of waste disposal in many parts of the world, including United States and Canada. Bioreactor landfills are expected to reduce the amount of and costs associated with management of leachate, to increase the rate of production of methane for commercial purposes and...

  • Daily cover
    Daily cover
    Daily cover is the name given to the layer of compressed soil or earth which is laid on top of a day's deposition of waste on an operational landfill site. The cover helps prevent the interaction between the waste and the air, reducing odors and enabling a firm base upon which for vehicles to operate...

  • Environmental Waste Controls‎ plc
  • I-recycle
    I-recycle
    The aim of I-recycle is to provide a central point for people offering items that they no longer require or need. The passing on of these items reduces the amount of usable goods going to landfill sites across the UK....

  • PowerGenix
    PowerGenix
    PowerGenix is a San Diego-based company developing rechargeable batteries, Nickel-zinc and recycling batteries. Nickel-Zinc are generally viewed much safer than Nickel-cadmium. Cadmium is banned in the EU, Toys R Us and Mattel...

  • Decompiculture
    Decompiculture
    The term decompiculture is a neologism coined by forestry professor Timothy Myles of the Urban Entomology Program at the University of Toronto and refers to how decomposing organisms, like termites, could be grown or cultured for a variety of uses....

  • Fly-tipping
    Fly-tipping
    Fly-tipping is a British term for dumping waste illegally instead of in an authorised rubbish dump. It is the illegal deposit of any waste onto land, i.e...

  • NIMBY
    NIMBY
    NIMBY or Nimby is an acronym for the phrase "not in my back yard". The term is used pejoratively to describe opposition by residents to a proposal for a new development close to them. Opposing residents themselves are sometimes called Nimbies...

  • Hydrologic Evaluation of Landfill Performance or HELP modfu
  • Landfill diversion
    Landfill diversion
    Waste diversion or landfill diversion is the process of diverting waste from landfill. The success of landfill diversion can be measured by comparison of the size of the landfill from one year to the next. If the landfill grows minimally or remains the same, then policies covering landfill...


  • Landfill mining and reclamation
  • Land reclamation
    Land reclamation
    Land reclamation, usually known as reclamation, is the process to create new land from sea or riverbeds. The land reclaimed is known as reclamation ground or landfill.- Habitation :...

  • Landfill tax
    Landfill tax
    A landfill tax or levy is a form of tax that is applied in some countries to increase the cost of landfill. The tax is typically levied in units of currency per unit of weight or volume...

  • List of solid waste treatment technologies
  • Marine debris
    Marine debris
    Marine debris, also known as marine litter, is human created waste that has deliberately or accidentally become afloat in a lake, sea, ocean or waterway. Oceanic debris tends to accumulate at the centre of gyres and on coastlines, frequently washing aground, when it is known as beach litter or...

  • Mechanical biological treatment
    Mechanical biological treatment
    A mechanical biological treatment system is a type of waste processing facility that combines a sorting facility with a form of biological treatment such as composting or anaerobic digestion...

  • Recology
    Recology
    Recology, Inc.is an integrated resource recovery company headquartered in San Francisco, California. The company collects and processes municipal solid waste, reclaiming useful materials that would have otherwise been buried in a landfill. The company also runs transfer stations, materials recovery...

  • Solid Waste Association of North America
    Solid Waste Association of North America
    For nearly 50 years, The Solid Waste Association of North America, has been a professional association in the solid waste management field...

  • Waste management
    Waste management
    Waste management is the collection, transport, processing or disposal,managing and monitoring of waste materials. The term usually relates to materials produced by human activity, and the process is generally undertaken to reduce their effect on health, the environment or aesthetics...


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