What Is Landfill Diversion?

According to the EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP), there are over 2,600 active landfills in the United States in 2022. The vast majority of them are municipal landfills for the disposal of solid waste. The dangers that landfills pose for human and ecological health are well known.

Newer landfills, called sanitary landfills, helped reduce the impact on both. The bottom of the landfill is lined to prevent contaminants from leaching into the water table, and waste is deposited in thin layers, with compacted soil between the layers to contain odors, prevent pest infestation, and keep litter from being carried away by wind. Sanitary landfills are under supervision at all times.

Secure landfills are designed for the disposal of hazardous waste and are built to stricter standards. They have a double impermeable liner to prevent water contamination and a monitoring system to detect leaks. In the event of a leak, a pumping system is activated to remove contaminated water for treatment.

The emission into the atmosphere of landfill gasses, such as methane and carbon dioxide, is of particular concern. According to the EPA, methane emissions from U.S. municipal solid waste landfills were roughly the same as the greenhouse gas emissions from driving 20.3 million passenger vehicles for an entire year. Efforts to capture landfill gas emissions and convert them into renewable fuels that can replace fossil fuels.

The ultimate goal, however, is to reduce the need for landfills through landfill diversion. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! So what is landfill diversion?

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What Are Types of Landfill Diversion

Landfill diversion is all about keeping waste out of landfills. Clearly, the best way to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the nation’s landfills is to reduce the amount of waste created in the first place. The two main methods for reducing waste are reuse and recycling.

Reuse

A number of states and municipalities have enacted legislation banning single-use plastics, such as plastic bags and plastic drinking straws, and many more have similar bans moving through the legislative process. Even without such bans, consumers can take action on their own to reduce the amount of municipal waste through reuse.

Many of us are voluntarily bringing our own reusable bags when we go shopping, using cloth dish towels instead of paper towels, and drinking from reusable containers rather than single-use water bottles. We can also reduce the amount of waste we create by repairing items when feasible and getting more use out of them, rather than discarding and replacing them. And selling or donating items that are no longer needed gives someone else a chance to continue using them.

Some items, like beer kegs and vehicle batteries, are routinely returned to their manufacturers to be used again.

Recycling

Recycling diverts waste from landfills by collecting used materials and using them as inputs to create more of the same items or transforming them into entirely new products. The most commonly recycled materials are paper, metals, plastics, and textiles.

Many states and municipalities have laws that make recycling mandatory for businesses and households. A number of them also have bottle bills requiring deposits on drink bottles to encourage recycling. About half of all states mandate the recycling of electronics, and nearly as many have instituted landfill bans that keep certain materials, such as oil and yard waste out of the municipal waste stream.

Benefits of Landfill Diversion

Landfill diversion is good for the health of all living things. It’s good for the planet and essential to combating global warming. It also has financial benefits for consumers and businesses. The more we reuse, the less we have to buy.

The one thing that holds many businesses back from making a greater effort at landfill diversion is their perception that large-scale reuse and recycling are difficult and costly. However, businesses actually can make a profit on their waste materials that otherwise would be consigned to a landfill. Repurposed Materials can help you discover how.

Working with a waste management company, like us, makes good economic sense for many businesses. It takes a lot of the effort out of separating and sorting recyclables and finding the best recycling options. Companies that specialize in that know how to get the best prices for waste materials of all kinds and can help businesses turn their waste into money.

Contact Repurposed Materials today to find out how we can help you find a new home for unwanted materials.