.. f rats, flies and other pests (Solid Waste 1) “Another disadvantage is that when it rains or snows the water seeps into the materials and dissolves them into leachate, which is polluted water .. ” (Becklake 11). This leachate will seep into the ground and will at some point in time pollute the underground water table that is sometimes the source of our drinking waters. The leachate also pollutes some river and lakes.
Some other disadvantage of landfills is the gas that is produced by rotting garbage .This is mainly methane gas and can be dangerous if it seeps into areas that are heavily populated (residential and business buildings). These gases are also very dangerous once the landfill is covered because they have the potental to cause explosions (12). In todays modern landfills these gases are ran through pipes away from the landfill site and then used to produce natural energy (12). “This energy then can be used for otherthings and it becomes less dangerous to the environment .. ” (Bailey 14). Ammonia ia another gas that is in the landfills , although this is not as dangerous as methane is does cause a terrible odor.
Landfills are full of billions of little living things called microbes or microorganisms that eat the waste garbage that is dumped at the dump sites. These microbes are able to eat their own weight in food every few seconds. The microbes can be bacteria or fungi and even though we can not see them they play a very important role in the cycle of life. Microbes play the same role in the landfill that they do in your compost pile in the home. Because decomposition in a landfill takes so long some of the bacteria responsible for breaking the garbage down need air to live and eat. “So the process of decomposing takes a long time because the kind of bacteria that needs no air or water are the only ones that can keep on working and much of the solid waste stops decomposing altogether ..
” (Fosterl 8). Burning or Incineration is another form of waste disposal and although this seems like a good answer to the landfill waste crisis it too has many problems. The cost is one of the highest forms of waste disposal, it can costs over three times more to burn garbage than it does to dispose of it into a landfill. Then the problem is what to do with the ash that is created, there is about one ton of ash for every ten tons of trash burned. This ash could still contain materials that are harmful when the ash is buried. Dioxin from the ash is a very hazardous material; it contains chlorine and is produced when paper and chemicals are manufactured and when plastics are burned at low temperatures. “Because the burning of waste causes smoke this causes another form of pollution and that is air pollution from the gases that are produced by the burning garbage ..
” (Becklake 12). However, the more modern incinerators of today are equipped to scrub the smoke that contains the gases before they are released into the atmosphere. The new age incinerators get much hotter than some of the older versions and are able to burn more of the trash. “Because they are able to burn hotter it causes glass and ceramic to melt and then crumble making it easier to dispose of the residue .. ” (Foster 23).
Because the biggest way to eliminate waste is to not produce it in the first place “source reduction is becoming a popular means of disposing of trash before it becomes trash .. ” (Enger, Smith 365). Packaging as mentioned earlier is a problem that contributes greatly to the amount of waste that is produced daily so it is becoming essential that manufacturers reduce the amount of materials used in packaging. Some of the ways this is being accomplished is to convert to plastics and lightweight aluminum by reducing the thickness of these products. The plastic milk containers weight almost half of what they weighed when they were first introduced into our society. Aluminum cans are also being produced lighter than they have been in the past.
By making these products in concentrated form business manufacturers are reducing the amount of packaging it takes to pack detergents and other cleaning products. Some of the many food products, such as juices are being sold in this form too. But like anything as humans in order for this to work the consumers must want to take care of the enviroment,ultimately favering products sold this way. “Many communities are starting municipal composting programs to keep yard waste out of landfills .. “( 366).
Waste can be disposed of by recycling. Although the solid waste is not really disposed of the waste in the true sense that you burn it or bury it the waste is being changed to another usable form. “Recycling has become more popular throughout the United States in the last ten years..” (366). Even though recycling has become more and more popular this form of waste disposal seems to have problems. One of major problems is the need for the separation.
“This is very costly if done by hand, after it is collected and it seems that most people feel that it is inconvenient if done at home .. ” (Lee 69). This inconvenience is one of the biggest reason more people chose not to recycle, people do not who really want to go to the trouble of sorting garbage into recyclable and non-recyclable bins ? It seemes that it is inconvenient to rinse out cans and to get them ready to be recycled. As society changes “some states are making it mandatory to recycle because lawmakers think that this is the only way that you can change the behavior of the residents .. ” (69).
Other problems encountered with recycling is that the demand for recycled goods have not yet met the demand. So if there is not a market for these products the efforts taken to recycle have been in vain The inconsistency in the market is another big problem. One example of this would be used newspapers. “At one time they were so plentiful that brokers were paying to have them hauled away .. ” (69).
The reluctance of some industries to use recycled products is another strike against recycling. Previously egg cartons and meat-packaging trays were made of pulp and could be made of a very low grade of paper that could be made from recycled paper. “But because these products are now packaged in plastic foam containers the market for paper has dropped .. ” (70). Other problems associated with recycling are either of the economic or technical nature (Enger, Smith 367).
Plastics are one particular concern because even though the plastics used are recyclable the methods of recycling vary from plastic to plastic.”Because they each have their own chemical make-up they cannot be recycled together thus becoming very costly .. ” (367). Even though these problems exist there are still many benefits from recycling. When recycling about a ton of paper you can save: “7953 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil, 17 trees, 587 pounds of air pollution, 3.06 cubic yards of landfill space and 4077 K Watt-hours of energy (Environmental Paper 1). Although paper consumption has increased significantly less paper is going to landfills because of recycling (2) Newspaper is something that everyone should be recycling – it takes very little time and effort to separate and because it is biodegradable it is relatively easy to break down to recycle. Glass is another resource that is easy to recycle.
If more people would recycle glass, “pollution would be reduced by 14-20% .. ” (Environmental Glass 1). Glass never wears out and it can be recycled again and again. Recycling a ton of glass could save more than a ton of resources (1). When a ton of glass is produced from raw material 384 pounds of mining waste is created (1).
When you recycle glass you are not only saving valuable resources you are also being taking care of the environment by not producing more waste to be put in landfills. There are still skeptics that don’t really think recycling makes a difference for various reasons. “Recycling does make sense and does make a difference: Recycling saves natural resources, saves energy, saves clean air and water, saves landfill space and saves money and creates new jobs .. ” (Environmental Hows and Whys 1). All of these reasons, make sense but the question is how much really does make a difference? As mentioned before, The Orr family was one of those skeptics but after doing the research for this paper they have changed their thought process and every little bit does count. Even if it is one small piece of paper, newpaper, milk cartin, diaper or plastic bag if it can be recycled, as the Nike saying says “Just Do It” because it leaves that much more space for those things that are not, and it is needed.
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