LANDFILLSWhen your parents ask you to take out the trash, do you ever wonder where it goes? There are a few different places trash can go. It can go into a landfill , a Waste-to-Energy Plant or a Materials Recovery Facility.
Landfills are the most common of the three. A landfill, also known as a dump, is a site for the disposal of waste materials. Your trash is essentially burried under the earth. It is the oldest form of disposal. It is important for landfills to be constructed properly and maintained daily in order for our natural resources (primarily groundwater) to be protected from the waste that is contained in the landfill.
One of the most important things for trash is decomposition, and the most important thing for decomposition is air. If we pile trash over and over where no air can get to it, it will always be trash. That is why landfill designers came up with cells. Instead of piling trash, landfill operators create cells, or blocks, out of it. A cell's size is based on the landfill. A larger landfill will have larger cells than a smaller landfill. Some landfills build cells up to 2500 tons. After the cells are created, they are placed in the landfill far enough apart so air can get to the trash and then they are covered with soil.
METHANE TO ENERGY
When air can't get to a landfill , bacteria begins to break down the trash. This happens in all landfills. A byproduct of this bacteria is a gas made up of 50% methane and 50% carbon dioxide with small amounts of nitrogen and oxygen. We call this gas methane . Methane is highly flammable and must be removed in order to prevent dangerous fires and explosions. In order to remove this gas, the landfill operators put in a series of extraction pipes. Some landfills burn the methane to dispose of it. Others turn it into energy. The most efficient and environmental landfills use the method of turning methane into energy. These methane into energy landfills extract the gas with methane extraction pipes, then burn it in order to power the facility. Visit your local landfill to see if they use the method of turning methane into energy.
WASTE-TO-ENERGY PLANTSWaste-to-Energy Plants are plants that burn trash in order to create electricity. Trash is considered a very energy-rich fuel, much like coal. Burning trash for energy works a lot like burning coal for energy:
- The trash (coal) is burned, releasing heat.
- The heat then turns water into steam.
- The high-pressure steam is able to turn the blades of a large generator, which produces electricity.
- Utility companies can then send that electricity through power lines to homes, schools and other facilities.
The most efficient and environmental landfills use the method of turning methane into energy. These methane into energy landfills extract the gas with methane extraction pipes, then burn it in order to power the facility. Visit your local landfill to see if they use the method of turning methane into energy.
MATERIALS RECOVERY FACILITY(MRFs-pronounced murrfs)
A Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) is used for recyclables. Your trash collectors bring all of your recyclables to this facility. Most MRFs use Single Stream Recycling . Single Stream Recycling is when all of your recyclables are dumped onto one stream (conveyer belt) and separated by both manpower and machinery. Using this type of recycling is much easier for the facilities, the disposal companies and the consumers. Once everything is separated, it is then recycled.
GAMES & QUIZZES
THE CONVERSIONATOR RECYCLING CALCULATOR
Turning recycling facts into fun.
An interactive sustainablility resource
ALUMINUM CAN RECYCLING POP QUIZ
Print this page to find out what you know about aluminum can recycling!
Looking for a fun activity? Great craft ideas using recycled materials.