What is a Landfill Site?
A landfill site is a large area of land specifically designed to be filled with rubbish. Some sites fill a hole in the ground with waste whereas others pile the waste directly onto the ground.
Why are Landfill Sites Used?
Landfill sites are used to dispose of waste that cannot be recycled or reused. This can include domestic rubbish (like plastic, tin packaging and glass) as well as rubbish generated from construction, industrial and commercial businesses. Certain waste – such as hazardous waste, liquid waste and medical waste – cannot be sent to landfill.
Why are Landfill Sites Bad?
Landfill sites are renowned for causing a wide range of environmental and health issues so they should only be used if the waste materials are unable to be reused, recycled or recovered.
Here we’ve explained some of the negative effects of landfill sites:
Releases Methane Gas
Methane – alongside numerous other toxic gases – is emitted from landfill sites. As the biodegradable organic waste decomposes, it naturally releases methane which is a potent greenhouse gas that absorbs heat and contributes to climate change.
Landfill sites impact biodiversity in several ways. Here are a few examples –
- The creation of landfill sites requires wild areas to be cleared, leading to habitat loss and degradation.
- As landfill sites are filled, some local species can be replaced by other animals that feed on refuse, like rats and crows.
- Leachate is the liquid produced in landfill sites. This can become toxic and thus contaminate nearby streams, ponds and lakes, damaging the habitat of many different organisms.
- Soil fertility is impacted too. The combination of toxic substances and decaying organic material can be of detriment to the soil quality, distorting soil fertility and activity and affecting plant life.
Landfill sites aren’t very easy on the eye and tend to be incredibly unpopular with local residents. Not only do they impact the natural landscape, but the decaying organic waste can also cause an unpleasant smell in the surrounding air.
The cost of managing landfill sites can be extremely high. This is because measures need to be implemented in order to manage the gases that are emitted as well as manage groundwater contamination and thus comply with environmental policies.
Also, because the majority of waste materials disposed of at landfill sites take millions of years to decompose, effective long-term strategies and facilities are needed. This usually requires considerable investment.
Can Easily Cause Fires
The large amount of waste mixed with the gases landfill sites produce can easily cause fires to start. In addition to causing air pollution, if the fires aren’t put out immediately, they can get out of control and destroy neighbouring habitats.