Science Bloggers for Students DonorsChoose Challenge

Monday, May 19, 2008

Throw it Away. Where is Away? Landfills.

What happens to you trash when you throw it away?”

Trash does not simply go away. Trash is taken to municipal landfills or dumps. Each day landfills receive trash, spread it out, and cover it with a layer of soil. Sometimes, the soil is mixed with sludge from sewers. However, the soil and trash layers are routinely compacted so as to use the space most effectively. Within the layers of soil trash is being decomposed. Compacting decreases the rate of decomposition of trash. Decomposition is the chemical breakdown of materials and requires air (oxygen) and water to hasten the process. Leachate and methane are two by-products of decomposition. Both are potentially hazardous and as a result landfills are regulated so as to reduce the negative impacts of these by-products. Leachate can potentially contaminate municipal water sources such as groundwater and aquifers, therefore all landfills must be lined with either plastic or clay to prevent leachate pollution.

Click on the image below to learn more about how landfills work.

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