Can we guess 3 landfill facts that will shock you?

Aug 4, 2021

Waste Connections LRI 2021 PRINT 0351

Landfills are necessary entities if we want to continue operating as a planet. Without a doubt, they provide a vital function for our society.

And there are some facts about landfills that you might not know – for instance, landfill operators, engineers, and employees have worked hard to make sure they are as socially and environmentally responsible as possible.

Here are some more facts that may surprise you:

1. Landfills have to follow strict environmental regulations

Before modern-day landfills, municipalities had “public dumping” areas. These areas were literally holes in the ground where people could dump their trash.

Before long though, the wet refuse from the garbage began soaking into the ground and contaminating the earth. Particularly, underground springs became contaminated, which caused cities’ water sources to turn hazardous.

Nowadays, modern landfills must follow specific rules in order to obtain the local permits that are necessary for them to operate legally.

For example, landfills today must combat wet refuse (leachate) by using a leachate collection system. It’s a system made up of several layers composite materials that halt the leachate from soaking into the ground. Then it gets pumped out, protecting the underground ecosystem from toxins.

2. Landfills can be used to generate power

You know what they say – one man’s trash is another man’s energy. Or something like that.

Landfills produce a gas called methane, which can be used to generate power and electricity.

Currently, around 10 percent of U.S. landfills are experimenting with this type of system, and research suggests that if we continue down this road of innovative thinking, landfills could eventually provide as much as 1 percent of the nation’s energy demand – and therefore, put less carbon into the atmosphere.

Pretty cool!

3. A lot of engineering goes into maintaining a landfill

Everything from runoff alleviation to leachate collection must be engineered on-site before a landfill can even begin operating.

“It’s not a dump … it’s a carefully designed landfill. To mitigate groundwater contamination, professionally engineered landfills possess complex liner systems that typically range from three different layers, like composite liner and leachate collection, to five different layers, like double-composite liner and leachate collection,” explains Matt Crockett, Eastern Region Engineering Manager for Waste Connections. “The construction costs associated with the liner systems can vary from $250,000 per acre to $775,000 per acre depending on the landfill.”

Aside from these surprising facts, there’s one more thing you should know about landfills: They account for a lot of jobs in the U.S. and around the world.

If you’re interested in a career in the waste and recycling industry, Waste Connections is hiring! Check out our Careers Page right now to find the perfect job for you.


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