understanding how landfills work

Understanding How Landfills Work

Taking out the trash removes garbage from your home, but the dumpster is not the final destination for your garbage bags. Much of America’s trash is buried in landfills, which are structures specifically designed to isolate trash and any runoff from the nearby environment. Keep reading to find out more about what happens to your trash after it leaves the waste dumpster and is placed in a local landfill.

A Landfill’s Purpose

The purpose of a landfill is to contain trash in a safe and even functional or aesthetically-pleasing structure. Unlike dumps, where trash is simply deposited and not contained, a landfill is a structure specifically created and equipped to isolate trash in a way that will not contaminate the surrounding environment, nor allow the trash to decompose. In some cases, landfills are created to extend usable land area into a nearby body of water, or to create hills and other features. Other times, landfills are simply the final step in waste management, and are placed in otherwise unused tracts of land.

A Landfill’s Structure

A landfill is intentionally structured in a way that will isolate the trash inside from the environment. This design contains any wastes to prevent contamination, and also prevents the trash itself from decomposing quickly, as in a compost situation. Landfill construction begins with the excavation of land to create a basin. The walls and bottom of the basin are covered with protective liners, and a drain system is installed to handle any liquids that may drain from the landfill. Finally, trash is added to the landfill until it has reached the design capacity; once capacity is reached, the landfill is covered with soil and grass or other foliage.

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