This was written on behalf of Batesy Skips.
What is Landfill?
Landfill sites are where rubbish ends up if it cannot be recycled, or hasn’t been properly sorted. The waste is compacted to maximise the amount that can fit in and then buried. It is generally considered to be the least eco-friendly way to dispose of waste and can have harmful effects on the surrounding area, including being responsible for the release of methane and contaminating groundwater.
In recent years the UK has been one of the worst European nations for landfill sites, in 2004/5 it sent over 20 million tonnes of rubbish to landfill, earning it a reputation as being the ‘dustbin of Europe.’ Lately, the UK has taken steps to amend this and was recently placed in the top 10 EU countries for efficient waste management.
Landfill isn’t not all bad though. 3,000 tonnes of rubbish is dumped daily at a landfill in Essex, yet this has attracted wildlife including seagulls, foxes and badgers. As a result, the site will be closed and reopen as an RSPB Nature reserve.
Landfill mining is also a growing industry. This involves digging up landfill to uncover waste that can be recycled or converted into renewable energy.
What are the alternatives?
Unfortunately Fly-tipping is still common, this is simply dumping waste at the side of the road or in a deserted area. It is dangerous, an eyesore and costs the taxpayer a lot to clear up. Incineration is also an option, but although it greatly reduces the volume of waste going to landfill and sometimes can be used to generate electricity, it is widely criticised for the substantial pollution it causes.
The cutting-edge technology in waste disposal is the use of Plasma which turns waste into a glass-like substance that can be used for building. It produces much less pollution than incineration, yet is expensive to get going.
Luckily there are several eco-friendly alternatives to landfill that are gaining ground. Composting is now practised on an industrial scale and is often praised as being a cost-effective way of converting organic material which would decompose into useful products.
The best alternative to landfill however, is to reduce the amount of waste that must be dumped by encouraging recycling as much as possible. This is possible both in industry and the home, many skip hire and waste disposal firms now have custom built recycling stations, while councils enable recycling for their residents through dedicated facilities, promotional campaigns and hefty fines for offenders.
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