Garbage is one of those unfortunate realities that humans have to deal with. It isn't pretty or attractive and it is not good for the environment. However, until people figure out a way to stop producing garbage, disposal will remain a problem. Although landfills have plenty of drawbacks, they also have certain benefits that make them the preferred method for garbage disposal.
Gas to Energy
At a landfill, as the various types of garbage break down, gas is released. This gas is a combination of methane and carbon dioxide. Large landfills install systems that gather the gas and convert it into energy by combining it with natural gas. The mixture is used to power a traditional turbine energy generator. This is not an ideal situation, but the trash needs to break down eventually, and this process limits the effects of toxic gases that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.
The hard truth is that until waste is greatly eliminated, it needs to be put somewhere. Certain places have to, or choose to, export waste to other facilities rather than have a landfill in the local area. A local landfill reduces the exporting of waste, which is a needless expenditure of energy. Some counties have laws that prevent exporting of waste, so if growth is expected in the region, new landfills are required.
One benefit of landfills is that they allow local governments to regulate waste disposal. Before landfills became common, people simply disposed of trash in the most convenient manner, with no regard to the environment. Regulation of landfills ensures that measures such as membranes to protect groundwater from dangerous runoff and controls that reduce insect and rodent populations for the protection of public health are in place.
Some materials that need to be disposed of are toxic and dangerous. People who work in landfills are trained to handle these substances properly. Landfill workers make sure that hazardous products are disposed of in such a way that no one is hurt through the disposal. Without regulated landfills staffed with trained employees, it would be difficult to guarantee public safety when dangerous substances are disposed of.
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