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The Necessity of Landfill Diversion in the United States - Research Paper Example

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The Necessity of Landfill Diversion in the United States Introduction As a highly industrialized country, the United States bears the distinction of having one of the most vibrant domestic manufacturing sectors that caters to its own market as well as abroad…
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The Necessity of Landfill Diversion in the United States
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Download file to see previous pages In fact, the U.S. is not just one of the world leaders when it comes to manufacturing consumer goods; it is also taking the lead in waste generation. In 2010 alone, “Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash and recycled and composted over 85 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 34.1 percent recycling rate” (EPA 2010). With this data, it would appear that every individual in the U.S. generates 4.43 pounds of waste every day. However, the possibility of solutions in the near future is still dim and proving this is another estimate from the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA that out of the 250 million tons generated, only 85 million tons of waste would actually make their way to the recycling and composting plants. This is only 34.1 percent of the waste generated. This means that majority of the said waste are directed to one of the most commonly used solid waste management method in the world, the landfill. There are basically two kinds of wastes, organic and non-organic. The former are those that could be left to decompose through natural means while latter could not be subjected to the same treatment because of its highly synthetic composition. Both, however, contribute to the growing problem of solid waste management, especially because both could become hazards to the environment. Despite the fact that organic wastes could decompose and its composition be assimilated by the soil, these could still produce threats to the environment. During the process of putrefaction, organic wastes are known to trigger gas emissions and leaching that could contaminate the air and the soil respectively. There have been many cases also where groundwater is contaminated because of leaching. The non-organic wastes, on the other hand, pose a threat to both humans and the environment because these could contain substances that could be toxic. Since non-organic wastes do not decompose, the solutions that have been applied to these are recycling and reusing. As for the organic wastes, these are delivered to landfills where these are left to decompose through purely natural means or through the intervention of certain treatment that would hasten the process. Due to the fact that landfills are basically environmentally hazardous, there had been various studies carried for the purpose of determining safer designs that could be applied for their construction. However, there have been countless cases when leaks did occur resulting to the bacterial or viral contamination of the groundwater. Aside from this, landfills also contribute to air pollution and to the greenhouse effect because of its methane emissions. In the U.S. and in Europe, where the landfill is an integral part of solid waste management, areas that could be designated for such purpose are fast running out even as the demand for more numerous and bigger sites continue to increase. It is because of the “large numbers and the expanses of valuable real estate they occupy” that the landfills are problems that are becoming increasingly serious (Tammemagi 5). With all these issues attributed to landfills, there is clearly a need to determine alternative solid waste management methods. The introduction of such methods should lead to the reduction of the U.S.’s reliance on landfills and to shift instead to methods that are more viable and safer for both humans and t ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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