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January 2, 2022

Do Modern Landfills Help to Protect the Environment?

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Do Modern Landfills Help to Protect the Environment?

Most people think of landfills as gross, filled with trash, and not a place anybody would ever want to go. While this might be true, modern landfills work very well to help protect the environment. In fact, your local landfill might be a better neighbor than you could ever imagine. When you rent a dumpster and load it up with trash, it will go to the local landfill. The same goes for the trash you put out to the curb on the eve of garbage day. Once the trash is at the landfill, you might be wondering what happens to it next.

How Modern Landfills Work

Old dumps used to just end up with piles of trash and they were not really monitored. Today, we use modern landfills, which help to separate waste from the surrounding environment. These landfills use a layering system that helps the waste safely decompose over time. While the decomposition process can produce methane gasses, which can be harmful, many of today’s modern landfills will actually collect the gas. They can use this gas to create electricity, which helps to keep it outside of the atmosphere. Trash goes into the landfill, which is layered and a landfill gas conversion center captures the methane gas. It’s stored and used to generate electricity. As the trash decomposes, it’s kept away from the environment to ensure it won’t hurt the neighboring areas or the atmosphere.

The Layers of a Modern Landfill

Layer #1 – The Liner System

This is the bottom layer of a modern landfill and it’s a liner made of dense clay. The clay is compacted and can prevent liquids from getting through. Along with the clay, engineers will install a liner made of high-density plastic to help add more protection.

Layer #2 – The Drainage System

Modern landfills have a second layer, which is known as the drainage system. As waste decomposes, it will produce a liquid. As rain and snow filter throughout the landfill, it can take the contaminants to the bottom of the landfill. Perforated pipes are found on the top of the liner system, which will collect the liquids and funnel them through a treatment facility. This liquid is known as leachate and it will go through a wastewater treatment plant onsite or in another location.

Layer #3 – The Gas Collection System

Since the waste at a modern landfill will create methane as it goes through decomposition, the gas collection system will collect this gas and keep it from the atmosphere. Since methane is the main component found in natural gas, modern landfills can collect it and use this gas to create electricity.

Layer #4 – The Trash

The final layer of a modern landfill is the trash as it’s dropped off. As a result, this is the main layer at any landfill and it will be compacted to take up less space. new trash is covered with a layer of dirt to help keep the odors and pets to a minimum. Modern landfills offer a way to protect the environment much better than the older type of landfill. Instead of just dumping trash in an open area, these landfills process it, use methane gas and protect the environment.


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