A landfill system is an organized method of waste disposal that involves burying waste materials on fields or pieces of land set aside for that purpose (Kemp, 2004). Landfills are also used for waste management purposes. For instance, they can be used for temporary storage, processing or consolidation of waste materials for transport to other disposal locations (Bagchi, 2004).
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Landfills have been criticized and opposed by environmental advocates because of their effects on the environment. Several policies have been enacted to regulate and control their impact on the environment because of poor management. Landfill systems face several issues in regard to current environmental regulations.
Poor management of landfills causes several issues that include disruption of infrastructure, pollution of the environment, wildlife disturbance, reduction of property values, and pollution of land and water reserves (Weber, Watson, Forter, & Oliaei, 2011). The heavy vehicles used to transport waste cause damage to roads and contaminate land as well as underground water. In order to mitigate the problem of soil, water, and road pollution, several stringent regulations have been created.
For example, in certain countries, wheel washing systems are mandatory for companies that offer waste disposal services (Lehmann, 2007). Landfills release greenhouse gases such as methane when waste materials decompose. Greenhouse gases pollute the environment and contribute to global warming (Lehmann, 2007).
Regulations such as gas collection and utilization systems and landfill liners help to alleviate these problems. Another issue that landfill systems face is on-site odor, proliferation of vectors, dust, noise pollution, and wildlife disruption (Kemp, 2004). The decay of organic materials releases gases that are highly toxic and that have bad odors. Finally, poorly managed landfills lower the value of property in surrounding areas (Brux, 2015). Therefore, it is crucial for landfill owners to maintain high standards of system design and management.
Another critical issue that landfill systems encounter is the presence of toxins in waste materials (Weber et al., 2011). Many waste materials from industries and households contain toxic substances that release toxins after decomposition. The toxins are released into the soil and cause pollution of land and underground water. Examples of waste materials that contain toxins include household appliances, televisions, industrial effluent, and computers.
They contain highly toxic substances such as mercury, PVC, lead, and acids (Velinni, 2007). Another toxin found in landfills is leachate. It is formed after the infiltration of water through decayed waste materials. This substance pollutes underground water, soil, and waterways (Velinni, 2007). Environmental protection agencies develop regulations that are aimed at reducing environmental pollution, emission of greenhouse gases, and improper waste disposal.
These regulations have dire financial consequences on landfill owners because of the need to incorporate advanced technologies to solve problems associated with poor or improper waste management. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency develops standards, policies, and regulations for proper management of waste collection, recycling, and disposal.
The standards were primarily created to prevent pollution of underground water by leachate. Many landfill owners utilize innovative designs such as the use of plastic liners to avoid the release of leachate into the environment (Velinni, 2007).
Environmental protection and conservation is the major role of environmental agencies. These agencies create regulations that are aimed at preventing environmental pollution from sources such as landfill systems.
Landfills cause pollution of land and underground water, contribute to global warming, cause noise pollution, and disrupt infrastructure. Landfill owners deal with issues that emanate from the need to protect the environment. They are required to implement innovative strategies that lower greenhouse emissions, noise pollution, and contamination of roads and underground water.
Bagchi, A. (2004). Design of Landfills and Integrated Solid Waste Management. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Brux, J. (2015). Economic Issues and Policy. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.
Kemp, D. D. (2004). Exploring Environmental Issues: An Integrated Approach. New York: Psychology Press.
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Lehmann, E. C. (2007). Landfill Research Focus. New York, NY: NOVA Publishers.
Velinni, A. A. (2007). Landfill Research Trends. New York, NY: NOVA Publishers.
Weber, R., Watson, A., Forter, M., & Oliaei. F. (2011). Persistent Organic Pollutants and Landfills: A Review of Past Experiences and Future Challenges. Waste Management & Research 29(1), 107-121.