Landfills are continuously growing in number to support the ever-increasing waste production on our planet. However, dumping trash into the Earth isn’t the only waste removal option we have. While landfills may serve as a passable means to store waste, they can have numerous negative impacts such as emitting hazardous toxins, leachate, and greenhouse gases that pollute the air, soil, and water in surrounding areas. As such, it’s beneficial to utilize waste removal alternatives to landfills in order to find a more sustainable solution to managing waste. Here are some of the most popular waste management options other than landfills.
Waste-to-energy is a process that converts plastic waste into energy by heating, melting, and vaporizing it into a gas. In addition to decreasing landfill usage, waste-to-energy has several benefits such as reducing the emission of harmful greenhouse gases and producing renewable energy—which can decrease our dependence on finite energy sources.
Composting is a well-recognized alternative to disposing waste in landfills. This environmentally-friendly process allows biological waste to naturally decompose into fertilizer for plants, due to the presence of microorganisms and oxygen. Composting is such a simple process that many people can do it right in their backyards to reduce household waste.
During anaerobic digestion, bacteria and other microorganisms break down organic waste. The process of anaerobic digestion is very similar to composting; however, the waste doesn’t need to be exposed to oxygen. Through anaerobic digestion, waste can be turned into methane or natural gases to power various engines.
Recycling is perhaps the most obvious alternative to disposing waste in landfills. An increasing range of products—such as paper, plastic, textiles, wood, aluminum, and glass—can be recycled through various processes. By recycling such products, one can convert materials that would have otherwise been thrown in a landfill into reusable materials.