A landfill is a site for the disposal of waste materials by burial and is the oldest form of waste treatment known to man. Historically, landfills have been the most common method of organized waste disposal and remain so in many places around the world. This is the simplest method for disposing of detritus which explains their common usage.
In the United States, landfills are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the states’ environmental agencies. Municipal solid waste landfills (MSWLF) are required to be designed to protect the environment from contaminants that may be present in the solid waste stream.
Modern landfills are well-engineered facilities designed to receive specific kinds of waste, including municipal solid waste (MSW), construction and demolition debris (C&D) and hazardous waste. Landfill facilities must be designed to protect the environment from contaminants, which may be present in the solid waste disposed in the unit.
Enter the landfills’ realm, America’s method of disposing of and storing garbage. Extremely necessary, landfills are filling up quickly and rapidly expanding. You might be surprised by just how big some landfills are if you read a list of the largest landfills in the United States.
With more than 250 million tons of trash created in the US each year, the garbage business in America is beyond big. A list of the 10 largest landfills in the US based on their yearly input volume would surprise most people by the tons of junk processed in these facilities on a daily basis.
The U.S. has 3,091 active landfills and over 10,000 old municipal landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, all of which create hazardous air emissions (methane) and eventually leach into the ground water. In March, 2000 it was reported that 82% of surveyed landfill cells had leaks.
Looking at California on the map it looks absolutely covered in landfills, this is especially true in the Los Angeles area. Considering that the average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash every day it’s astonishing to think that there are only about 3,000 active landfills in the entire country. This tells how big they have to be on average in order to process all the waste materials produced by both the people and the corporations in this nation.
The United States is also home to thousands of inactive landfills – and some have found new life and purpose as public parks. But most are out of sight, out of mind. The West Coast is practically overflowing with landfills: There are a dozen in the Los Angeles area alone, though most are now closed.
It is actually a mountain of trash at the Rumpke sanitary landfill towering 1045 ft. above sea level. The US population discards each year 16,000,000,000 diapers, 1,600,000,000 pens, 2,000,000,000 razor blades, 220,000,000 car tires, and enough aluminum to rebuild the US commercial air fleet four times over.
36% of what is thrown away in the US each year is paper or cardboard, much of which is recyclable. The United States has over 3,000 active landfills and over 10,000 “old” landfills. All of these create hazardous gas and could be a danger to groundwater.
It is clear that the trend must be reversed as soon as possible as the USA cannot continue to accumulate so much garbage without the risk of dire consequences to the environment.