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Disposal to landfill is the least desirable environmental option for managing municipal waste.

Disposal to landfill is the least desirable environmental option for managing municipal waste.

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This essay researches and analyzes the use of landfill sites. It highlights the classifications of waste and the waste hierarchy with particular emphasis toward the impact on health and the environment as a result. It also provides alternative solutions to our ever growing dependance on this form of waste disposal.
This essay researches and analyzes the use of landfill sites. It highlights the classifications of waste and the waste hierarchy with particular emphasis toward the impact on health and the environment as a result. It also provides alternative solutions to our ever growing dependance on this form of waste disposal.

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Sep 01, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/27/2013

 
Aoibhín GaynorJunior Freshman Engineering2007-2008
1
 
Disposal to landfill is the least desirable environmentaloption for managing municipal waste .
Introduction
The disposal of municipal waste has been one the major topics discussed in relation toenvironmental issues in recent times. This is largely due to the need for a more acceptableform of disposal to replace the somewhat traditional landfill site solution. Landfill sitesare becoming increasingly undesirable as time passes not only due to increasingenvironmental concerns but also due to the practical issue of an inability to find suitablesites for such large volumes of potentially harmful waste. EU and Government directiveshave stated that reliance on this form of waste disposal must be reduced significantly inthe near future. Although we have seen vast improvements in the construction andmanagement of landfills they are still the least desired option for several reasons. Firstly by definition a landfill is a site designed for the disposal of waste materials by burialwhich is then subsequently covered with soil or another type of capping. It is the oldestform of waste treatment and can have many adverse effects. The validity of the statementabove can be shown clearly in this report by the discussion of several negative aspectsassociated with landfills. These include the dangerous explosions that can be caused as aresult of toxic and flammable gases that build up within sealed landfills lacking in proper gas collection systems, the undesirable odours emitted by waste decomposition,groundwater pollution, air pollution, vegetation distress in the areas surrounding the site, property value reduction and the physical disruption of the landfill cover which could potentially harm the surrounding habitats or incite infestations of vermin.2
 
Classifications of Waste and Waste H ierarchy
Municipal waste can be easily classified intofour categories, household waste, whichcomprises the vast majority of this type of waste, commercial waste, such as soil,concrete and brick rubble, waste from streetcleansing and hazardous or harmful wastewhich comprises approximately 1% of allmunicipal waste and may require separatecollection. A waste hierarchy was developedin order to direct choices about possiblealternative waste management options. This is a series of strategies designed to createawareness towards our ever increasing problem of waste generation due to increased population growth. The aim of the waste hierarchy is to extract the maximum practical benefits from products and to yield the least amount of waste. According to the datasupplied by The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2005 over 65.4% of allmunicipal waste in Ireland still goes straight to landfill with only 34.6% being recovered.This in an increase on previous figures in 2004 for waste recovery, but it still remains thatan exceptional amount of waste is disposed of in landfills.
Impact on H ealth and Environment due to Landfills
This type of waste disposal has several undesirable effects, the most significant of whichare environmental and health concerns. The continuous dumping of municipal wasteresults in the production of an unfavorable product known as leachate which forms whenwater permeates through the waste in the landfill cell. The unwanted by-product of thisform of waste management is a potentially dangerous and detrimental form of waste for the environment. Leachate causes problems not only in the construction of the landfill but3
 
Fig: 1 The Waste Hierarchy

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