Lancaster, South Carolina
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Helpful Terms to Know for Landfills
Landfills play an essential role in helping us manage waste and keep trash under control. However, they can also represent an environmental concern, and must meet specific regulations. Due to this, many groups are interested in not only using these spaces, but finding ways to improve them. Review these important terms to help you better understand landfills, and associated fields.
Biodegrade - The action of decaying and breaking down through natural agents in the environment. Trash that is added to the dump that is biodegradable will eventually decompose and be absorbed back into the environment.
Recycle - This is the act of taking used materials, such as paper or plastic, and breaking them down to create new products. It is part of the motto, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle." This can include paper towels, plastic containers, and even some glass containers. There are certain rules regarding the materials that can be broken down and recycled, so be sure to check cartons and containers before you dispose of them!
Incinerator - This machine is used in the incineration process of breaking down and managing waste in landfills. It applies thermal heat to reduce garbage to ash, heat and flue gas. Depending on the incinerator, the heat that is produced during this process can be converted to an energy source.
Compactor - Machine, similar to a dozer, that is used to manage trash at the dump. Smaller compactors can be used in residential or commercial areas to clear places where garbage has been thrown, while large ones can drive over large waste piles, and move others.
Solid Waste - This is any garbage or refuse that that has been abandoned or disposed of. It can include liquids, captured gases, solid, or semi-solid materials.
All city or town trash ends up in the landfill. Recyclables end up in a recycling plant. For regular rubbish, landfills, also called dumps, are the last stop. Municipal and private trash collectors bring the waste they collect to these landfills, where they are compacted and disposed of. Twenty years is the limit for any particular landfill to operate. After that time, it is capped and a new landfill must be located.
Landfills are usually found at a central point in a town or city. A related category is sanitary landfills, which isolate hazardous and toxic solid waste from the environment for a period of time to allow them to biodegrade and decompose. Landfills, one of the oldest forms of waste treatment, may also offer temporary storage, transfer, or processing of waste. This involves sorting and recycling, another effort touted by many communities to reduce garbage output and reuse resources.
Chipped wood, foam, and soil are all materials used to cover the compacted waste on a daily basis. Landfill liners are typically made out of clay. They also produce gas over time, resulting from chemical reactions from the liquid and solid waste. This can be used for energy. Incinerators are located on the premises for burning. Curbside recycling within communities reduces paper, plastic, and glass destined for landfills. Instead, these recycled items are managed, sorted, and sent to a recycle facility where the materials are given new life as other products.
Industrial dumps need proper management; that’s why several professionals are involved in the sanitary operations of a landfill yard on an ingoing basis. They may offer special days where members of the community can visit the dump to drop off hazardous materials that can’t be disposed in the regular trash, such as paint thinner, oil, and electronics such as TVs.