VIDEO: Not your grandparent’s landfill

The art and science of modern landfills

Last Updated: 5/15/2017

Once upon a time, people simply dug big holes and threw in every kind of trash imaginable. When that hole was full, they dug another one. Today, we’re very careful about how we design and build landfills and are much more cautious about what we throw into them.

Landfill cells, like the one currently under construction at the Western Regional Sanitary Landfill at Athens Avenue and Fiddyment Road, are self-contained units, similar to giant bowls set into the ground. 

During construction, companies that specialize in building landfills excavate massive holes that they line with special, watertight materials. The liners prevent liquids from escaping into the soil and leaching into underground water supplies. New landfills also contain special landfill gas collection and control systems that prevent gases from escaping into the air as pollution. Instead, the systems capture methane gas generated by decomposing trash and turn it into electricity or fuel.

It’s expensive to construct a landfill that meets today’s stringent environmental requirements. It also takes a long time, a large area of land, and a great deal of engineering and construction expertise. Those are more good reasons to reduce, reuse, and recycle whenever you can. 

Check out this video to learn more: