It’s hard to talk about waste management and never mention landfills. As many well know, a landfill is where all of the trash and other waste goes once it has been collected. However, have you ever given landfills much more thought than that? Most people don’t, and many do not know how landfills work. Even though landfills are not much to talk about, they are very interesting in their design and the role they play for local communities. To give more appreciation to landfills, Mickey’s Carting will break down how landfills work.
How Does a Landfill Work
A landfill is not just a hole in the ground. A landfill is much more like a facility that is built into the ground and is designed to hold and isolate waste from the environment. These facilities are known as Class 3 landfills, and a lot goes into these types of landfills to help protect the environment that we all live in. A class 3 landfill is a scientifically engineered facility that follows federal and state regulations which ensures the safety of the public health.
What is the Fate of the Municipal Solid Waste?
When you have trash and/or waste, better known as municipal solid waste (MSW), you leave it outside your home once a week or more to be picked up and taken away. A single garbage truck can pick up about 14 tons of waste when they are compacted. Each truck will visit about 800 to 850 homes a day. On average there are about 200 garbage trucks that stop at a landfill every day. That is about 2800 tons of waste each day. That is a lot of garbage. With so much waste to handle, it is important to have a well-designed landfill. Not only is that a lot of trash, so much waste in one area can be hazardous. To better manage the waste, the garbage trucks and dumpsters are taken to the aworking face area. An aworking face area is a site of the landfill that crushes and compacts much of the waste. Later the waste is dropped into cell. A landfill usually only has one cell open at a time, with a second being built. Once one cell is full, the new cell should be ready. It is important to put as much waste into each cell as possible. For this reason, a landfill will have a shredder and compactor that can compress about 1400 pounds of waste in one cubic yard. These cubes are placed into the cell as neatly as possible. Once a cell is full, it is covered with soil to hold in the odors and reduce pest activity.
How Do Landfills Collect Methane?
Along with cells, a landfill will have a bottom liner that prevents the waste from breaking up and entering the soil. There are also storm drainage systems to prevent the cells or the landfill from flooding. One of the more important parts of a landfill is its methane collection system. As the trash and other waste begins to decay or decompose, it creates methane gases. Methane gases can explode or be fuel for fires. Methane gas is dangerous but it also can be used beneficially. The methane gas is collected through a series of pipes and are vented or burned. When burning the methane, it produces energy that aids in powering cities. When it is closed it will receive the final covering or cap. The covering or cap seals off the entire landfill, preventing environmental hazards and even keeps the pest and other wildlife away. On average, a landfill site lasts between 30 to 50 years depending on its size and how well the landfill is managed.