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Author Topic: How can we run out of landfill space?  (Read 34829 times)

lyner

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« on: 22/01/2009 23:08:12 »
I realise that we should be cutting down on our wasteful use of resources but why is landfill volume a relevant quantity to the problem?
The amount of greenhouse gas produced depends upon what is actually put in there and on how the 'burying' process is carried out. It can't be just a matter of cubic metres, can it?

It looks to me as if the politicians have, yet again, come up with a method of measuring waste which is relatively easy to police but which really doesn't mean much at all.
What do you think?



 

Offline Chemistry4me

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #1 on: 22/01/2009 23:09:28 »
Is this something going on in the UK? Can you just bring me up to date on what you're talking about?
 

lyner

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #2 on: 22/01/2009 23:18:23 »
Local authorities have to pay a fine if they dump 'too much' rubbish into landfill sites. EU regulations, I believe!!

I just remembered the island of rubbish in the film 'The Ladykillers'. Brilliant.
 

Offline LeeE

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #3 on: 23/01/2009 00:24:08 »
You've just reminded me of the film 'The Bed-Sitting Room'

Recommended
 

Offline Karsten

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #4 on: 23/01/2009 00:57:10 »
Maybe it is a problem because nobody wants to have a landfill in their town/back yard. I imagine that opening a new landfill is rather difficult due to resistance of the local population (or those pesky environmentalists). So, rationing the waste that goes in (by volume) ensures that an existing landfill may last longer. But that is just a guess.
 

Offline LeeE

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #5 on: 23/01/2009 01:14:24 »
Quote
So, rationing the waste that goes in (by volume) ensures that an existing landfill may last longer. But that is just a guess.

Aw c'mon.  I think you can be a bit more positive about your deduction here;  if you fill the hole more slowly then it will take longer to fill.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #6 on: 23/01/2009 07:27:32 »
How long is one of those holes supposed to last? 10 yrs? 20 yrs?
 

Offline Don_1

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #7 on: 23/01/2009 08:12:46 »
I am sure that our waste and recycling regime could be far better managed. At present each local authority is doing it's own thing. What's more much of the recycling is handled in such a mish mash of ways, I seriously doubt it is doing anything to help prevent pollution.

In one area a used plastic bottle will be collected by a dedicated vehicle, in another area it will be collected along with tin/ally cans and in another it will be collected with all recycling. This bottle will be transported to the local waste/recycling transfer station. From there it will be transported to a bulk handler. From there to a sea port. From there to another sea port and on to a processing company, probably half way around the globe. The processed bottle, now in some other form, will then be shipped off to some other country for re-use in its new form. What was the environmental cost of all this?

Would it not be better if instead of the 5 vehicles we currently have here collecting our rubbish/trash we went back to just one vehicle collecting the whole lot, taking it to a processing centre for sorting into paper, ferrous & non-ferrous metals, glass, plastics and compostable by criminals serving sentences for serious crime?

Kill two birds with one stone. Efficiently sort our waste and punish crime. The waste which can be economically (both in monetary and environmental terms) dealt with treated accordingly and the rubbish incinerated.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #8 on: 23/01/2009 08:14:34 »
taking it to a processing centre for sorting into paper, ferrous & non-ferrous metals, glass, plastics and compostable by criminals serving sentences for serious crime?
Sounds like a brilliant idea!
 

Offline dentstudent

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #9 on: 23/01/2009 08:18:35 »
Isn't this the trouble with a "free market", where each council has various companies tending for the business? So you have literally hundreds of individual contracts rather than a single universal one. Another of Thatcher's great ideas...
 

Offline Karsten

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #10 on: 24/01/2009 17:13:37 »
Quote
So, rationing the waste that goes in (by volume) ensures that an existing landfill may last longer. But that is just a guess.

Aw c'mon.  I think you can be a bit more positive about your deduction here;  if you fill the hole more slowly then it will take longer to fill.

Yeah, I am positive about the speed the hole will fill up, but what if the landfill is to be closed by a certain date? Will it be closed (as promised) even though it is not full?
 

Offline Karsten

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #11 on: 24/01/2009 17:18:48 »
taking it to a processing centre for sorting into paper, ferrous & non-ferrous metals, glass, plastics and compostable by criminals serving sentences for serious crime?
Sounds like a brilliant idea!

Until the day the workers are less motivated than usual and don't do a great sorting job. And while they may have to sort the batch again, the amount of trash we manufacture while hoping that recycling will solve the problem of waste cannot be handled with human labor. In the USA we manufacture about 4 lbs of trash per person per day (including pre-consumer trash I think). That is roughly 1.4 billion pounds of trash per day! You cannot sort that with people who are employed/"asked" to do this.
 

paul.fr

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #12 on: 24/01/2009 20:47:02 »
If we were to run out of landfill space, then maybe someone would realise I was right all this time when I said we should simply dump it down old mines and backfill them.

Why does nobody listen to anything I say? (that's a rhetorical question)
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #13 on: 25/01/2009 01:10:30 »
How long is one of those holes supposed to last? 10 yrs? 20 yrs?

(that appears to be a rhetorical question too! :-X)
 

lyner

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #14 on: 25/01/2009 11:44:27 »
I'm afraid your argument is full of holes.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #15 on: 25/01/2009 22:08:31 »
That's rubbish!
 

paul.fr

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #16 on: 26/01/2009 15:01:45 »
I'm afraid your argument is full of holes.

Not if they are backfilled!  :P
 

Offline Mazurka

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #17 on: 26/01/2009 15:40:02 »
When people say that we are running out of landfill space they are referring to “void space” with the necessary consents for tipping.  Landfill sites need consent from both the Planning authority and the Environment Agency.  The first is to use the land for depositing waste and the other is to protect the environment from the waste. 

Historically, old quarries were used for landfill sites.  Up until the 1970’s most people burnt their waste on the fire (before plastic packaging became ubiquitous) and these tips were mainly composed of ash and glass.  More recently the “waste stream” has changed and the hazards from landfill have increased.  To help understand these hazards please excuse a digression into how a modern landfill works…

When enough waste is tipped into a site it starts to breakdown through various microbial processes.  The rate at which it breaks down is mainly controlled by how wet it is and in drier countries after an initial putrefaction very little breakdown of the waste occurs.  The “bugs” breakdown the waste via several anaerobic pathways, ultimately producing landfill gas, which is used on most sites to fuel electricity generators.  Landfill gas is around 60% methane 40% carbon dioxide with trace compounds that give it a bad smell. 

The other “product” of the bugs work (and moisture within the waste) is liquid known as leachate.  The composition of leachate is highly variable as it depends on what waste has been deposited into the site. It often has high concentrations of heavy metals, phenols, aromatic hydrocarbons etc. but is always quite acidic.   As a consequence nearly all landfill sites have been lined and capped to prevent rain and groundwater getting in and leachate and landfill gas getting out.  Engineering of sites really started to happen in the 1980’s to prevent gas migrating from them and causing problems such as explosive atmospheres in confined spaces and emission of green house gases. Landfill gas was blamed for the unscheduled demolition of a bungalow in the village of Loscoe, Derbyshire in 1986. Lining also prevents leachate from contaminating local groundwater. 

The cost of engineering a landfill site can be quite high to meet the standards of the Environment Agency and to contain the potential pollutants for a long time.  The cost is in part dictated by the type of ground on which is it built,  the ideal site would be an old clay pit (from brick making etc.) and the worst would be an old limestone quarry, as any leak of acidic leachate would eat away at the limestone and undermine the rest of the lining system. 

In the UK, following various bits of legislation from Europe, government policy is to move away from landfill and to use resources more efficiently – such as increasing the amounts and types of material reused and recycled.  As this is down to local councils, it can be a little bit patchy.  It is also subject to the vicissitudes of the global market for recyclate.

The other driver is to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases specifically CH4 – which has a higher greenhouse potential than CO2.  Having spent recent years desperately trying to maintain an adequate supply of landfill gas to fuel generators on a number of tips, I find it irritating when landfill is described as a major source of methane – it is too valuable to waste by releasing it directly into the air!  Of course, using it as a fuel converts it into CO2 – but so does incineration (sorry,  Energy From Waste as it is now called).  Where it is uneconomic for power generation, landfill gas is flared generally using systems to keep the gas at 1000C for 3 seconds or more to ensure destruction of PCB’s dioxins etc.   

However, the biggest problem with creating new sites is that no one wants them anywhere near them.  It is fully understandable why people are “NIMBY” particularly when they have often suffered from disturbance due to the mineral working that creates the void anyway – whether this is noise, dust, or lorries going passed their house.  Landfills are often bad neighbours as they can attract flies and rats as well as emitting noxious odours etc.  This leads to existing sites asking for extensions or going back over areas.  This contributes to the appearance of there mot being much landfill space left!

(sorry for length)
 

lyner

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #18 on: 26/01/2009 17:42:29 »
Useful info, Mazurka. Thanks.
As for the idea of holes in the ground - well well well.
 

Offline Make it Lady

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #19 on: 26/01/2009 22:29:34 »
Most of the plastic bottles are re-cycled in a plant in Cheshire. It is only the low quality plastics that go abroad. Hampshire incinerates most of its waste and uses it to make electricity.

The best thing to do is not to overconsume, compost what you can and buy things with as little packaging as you can. The really stupid thing is that although people are keen to re-cycle their waste they are not buying re-cycled stuff so there are stock piles of recycled paper!!!!
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #20 on: 27/01/2009 00:33:39 »
Where do you buy recycled stuff?
 

Offline Mazurka

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #21 on: 27/01/2009 12:53:46 »
Centralised recycling does raise the issue of how much diesel is burnt hauling the recyclate to the recycling facility.  A lot of paper is used by Aylseford newsprint in Kent - but if you conduct "life cycle analysis" there is a good argument to dispose of paper locally - as it breaks down readily in landfill or burns will in incinerators.  Even better is to compress it into blocks and burn it on your own fire at home.

Following the law of unintended consequences, EU directives protecting small producers of wine and "appelation controlee" has meant that the UK is a net importer of glass.  Prior to that wine was tankered in and bottled here. The other implication of this is that we get less wine per gallon of diesel used in hauling it.

Ironically shipping recyclate to China can be considered quite efficient - the boats and shipping containers have to go back anyway and the recyclate can go to make more things to be shipped back to the west, used and disposed of...   
 

Offline NobodySavedMe

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #22 on: 29/01/2009 23:02:43 »
I realise that we should be cutting down on our wasteful use of resources but why is landfill volume a relevant quantity to the problem?
The amount of greenhouse gas produced depends upon what is actually put in there and on how the 'burying' process is carried out. It can't be just a matter of cubic metres, can it?

It looks to me as if the politicians have, yet again, come up with a method of measuring waste which is relatively easy to police but which really doesn't mean much at all.
What do you think?



I can assure you there is no shortage of landfill space.

It is just propaganda designed to make you more controllable by a mass media which instigates new trends for it's own perpetuity.

 

Offline Chemistry4me

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #23 on: 29/01/2009 23:05:56 »
Hmmm... propaganda aye? Sounds like Hitler (will that get me in trouble) is running the country!!!
 

Offline Mazurka

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How can we run out of landfill space?
« Reply #24 on: 30/01/2009 09:27:23 »

 

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