A landfill is a piece of land where garbage is dumped. Waste is disposed of in these lands and buried. This is also called a rubbish dump. There are different types of landfills, including municipal solid waste landfills, industrial waste landfills, hazardous waste, and green waste landfills. In a landfill, the waste decomposes. However, car batteries, motor oil, tires, and untreated medical waste are banned/ prohibited from being deposited in landfills.
Pros of landfills
1. They are excellent sources of energy. This happens when garbage accumulates, and many gases are produced and channeled to the environment through a pipe. The gases include Carbon (IV), Oxide, and Methane. These gases, once filtered out, can be useful elsewhere. They are usually the third source of Methane in the US and therefore play a vital role in industrialization.
2. They are available in large numbers. Many governments in different nations have realized the benefits of landfills as far as industrialization and improving their economy are concerned. They have therefore set aside free land to create landfills for dumping the garbage. There are more than enough land sites set aside for landfills in developing countries.
3. They are affordable and relatively cheap. This is because most governments have made land available for dumping garbage-free, especially to industries. The cost of production in industrialization is thus reduced.
3. They are a source of employment for many people. Some people are involved in picking up trash and conserving these landfills. The landfills are, therefore, sources of their income. Many youths are also forming environmental groups and organizations to help social work by cleaning the environment.
4. They are an excellent manner recycling waste
The already used stuff or garbage is recycled and has many other uses. For example, CO2 emitted in landfills is used to preserve soft drinks while Methane is used in gases for cooking.
5. Landfills emit or produce fewer greenhouse gases as compared to burning waste. This helps to reduce the effect of gases on the Ozone layer, thus slowing the rate of global warming.
6. They can be used as temporary storage spaces.
7. They prevent environmental dumping. In the past decade, this has been an increasing problem, especially in developing countries. Environmental dumping is not a sustainable concept and hence measures should be taken to stop this. Additional landfills are being set up to stop environmental dumping. Landfills, therefore, help to protect poor developing countries.
8. Landfills help reduce transportation distances of waste. They are usually set up in cities hence the waste does not have to be transported over long distances.
9. Latest technologies can help to make landfills more eco-friendly. Landfills are currently constructed in ways that make them have fewer negative effects on the environment compared to those set up a long time ago. Because of the advancement in technology, landfills have become more environmentally friendly. This also increases their efficiency.
10. Landfills can be used as energy production centers. Modern landfills produce high amounts of energy from the gases that are produced during the process of decomposition. Gases such as methane are emitted from landfills and can therefore be used to produce large amounts of energy over time.
Fossil fuels can also be used to help slow down the rate of global warming.
Cons of landfills
The bitter truths of landfills include the following,
1. They affect human health. Landfills cause disease as most toxic things are found in landfills. Sharp devices and electronic gadgets can cause accidents and injuries to workers in landfills. Animals such as cats and dogs can be poisoned in landfills.
2. They affect wildlife. The smell that is emitted from landfills and dirt could be poisonous to both plants and animals. Some places where landfills were put up were habitats for certain flora and fauna. The formation of these landfills thus displaced these creatures.
3. Can produce harmful gases. Landfills produce gases such as methane and CO2 which can cause the greenhouse effect. This destroys the Ozone Layer and contributes to climate change.
4. Cause water pollution. This happens especially when the landfill is near a water body. Leachate from landfills gets into water sources and causes pollution. Leachate can also pollute underground water, especially during the rainy season.
5. Cause soil pollution. It also happens due to leaching in landfills.
6. Poorly maintained landfills could be hazardous/ harmful. This can pose a big risk to water sources, animals, marine life, and human beings.
7. Can lead to deforestation. Construction and setting up of landfills leads to deforestation- cutting down of many trees has a huge effect on the environment.
8. Largely affects the tourism industry is it degrades the beauty of the natural environment.
9. Landfills can be a breeding ground for bacteria, which can spread across the general public. This can lead to the spread of diseases causing serious pandemics and epidemics.
10. Visual pollution related to landfills could pose a big risk to animals.
Due to the setting up of landfills, large areas of land are used and trees are thus cut down. 11. May lead to ecological imbalance. The natural habitats of flora and fauna are destroyed, making some predator species become fewer in numbers. Other prey species increase in numbers. The whole ecosystem may get out of balance with unclear long-term effects in certain areas.
12. There are poor working conditions in landfills. Working conditions in landfills are often quite poor, and workers may not get protective gear. This can lead to the workers contracting serious illnesses.
13. They can lead to particulate matter especially when not properly managed.
They produce an unpleasant smell/odor making it uncomfortable to live near landfills.
15. Hazardous waste may end up in landfills even though local authorities may have banned them. These include poisonous chemicals and objects.
16. Landfills have unclear long-term effects. These unpredictable negative effects should enable humanity to be careful and stop using landfills excessively.