When it comes to waste disposal, Australia relies heavily upon landfills. In essence, landfilling is dumping waste that involves the burial of massive amounts of rubbish. Until date, it has been the most reliable waste disposal solution for Australia’s large outflow of waste in civilisation. The issue with this, however, is the negative externalities landfills have on the environment. Scientists have proven time and time again that landfills can be extremely harmful to the environment. Depending on where the landfill is, it can have effects on the rest of the food chain that inevitably end up in the food that we’re eating. Not only does it affect the natural habitation in Australia, but it also affects our air quality through methane and carbon emissions. Scientists have argued for years that methane emissions and carbon emissions are a large contributor to global warming.
Why Are Landfills Bad For The Environment?
Landfills are bad for the environment for a multitude of reasons. Currently, they’re our best solution for waste disposal. Australia relies heavily upon landfilling as our means of waste management, but the question we need to be asking ourselves is: is there a more effective solution out there that we aren’t currently aware of? The main aspects of the environment that are affected from landfills are as follows:
- Air pollution – experts say that roughly 60% of all landfill is biodegradable matter. As this matter breaks down chemicals such as methane are released into the air. Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas and has the potential to trap heat in our atmosphere up to 15 times more than carbon dioxide. It also reduced the air quality for residents.
- Biodiversity – when a landfill is put in place, the environmental impacts on biodiversity are devastating. Unfortunately, anywhere between 25 to 250 native species of mammals, birds and insects are lost per hectare as a result of a landfill. A loss in biodiversity is detrimental to the rest of the food chain.
- Water Pollution – as rainwater falls onto a landfill, highly toxic chemicals seep into groundwater. This is a serious issue as as water collects over a landfill it can lead to a contamination of local groundwater. The most dangerous part of this issue is that the chemicals in a landfill can often deoxygenate water, leaving no room for life to exist in groundwater channels.
- Soil Fertility – unfortunately a landfill brings to gather a large collection of toxic waste often containing toxic chemicals. As you might have guessed, this highly impacts the soil fertility of the surrounding areas. The impacted quality of soil fertility in and around the landfill site decreases crop yield drastically. This also means that the surrounding biodiversity will be affected. As neighbouring insects, mammals and birds feed they will contract the deadly chemicals found in landfills that have flow on effects up the food chain.
- Health Impacts & Visual Impairments – not only are landfills aesthetically displeasing, but they’re also highly toxic to live around. It’s common knowledge that most residential communities don’t want to be built anywhere near a landfill. With a combination of air pollution, a reduction in biodiversity, water pollution, soil fertility and health impacts a landfill eliminates town planning as an option in that area. As the population of the world continues to grow, we’re going to need to find new ways to dispose of our waste to retain as much inhabitable land as possible.
What Does the Future of Waste Disposal Look Like?
As years progress, our future generations are going to need to find new and innovative ways to dispose of rubbish in a way that mitigates the externalities that affect the environment. The good news is that as our society is becoming more educated, sociocultural movements towards acts of environmental sustainability are becoming more prevalent than ever. Government officials are heading the advice of our scientists and the world is gradually working towards a greener future. The future of urban waste disposal is a hot topic among our society. Some of the most prominent ideas about the future of greener waste disposal are:
- Fully Reusable or Biodegradable Products – one of the most compelling solutions is substituting current disposables for reusable or biodegradable fabrics. When it comes to plastic water bottles, baby diapers, shopping bags and other common household products, product designers are trying to find new ways to replace conventional products that aren’t biodegradable with new fabrics that are either completely reusable or very biodegradable.
- Paying a Rubbish Disposal Fee – another idea is that people will need to pay for their rubbish disposal. By coughing up a fee, the hope is that people will be forced to be more careful when thinking about the scope of their routine rubbish disposal. By being more conscious about rubbish disposal from a personal financial perspective, it will be profitable for individuals to opt for using reusable products to avoid paying a constant fee.
- Getting Rid of Landfills – at some point, our societies are going to need to find an alternative to landfilling, or a way to make them environmentally sustainable. Current landfill practices emit methane into the atmosphere which is a huge contributor to global warming and climate change. Government officials from around the globe are gradually becoming more environmentally conscious as sociocultural and environmental movements towards a sustainable future are becoming more in demand.
Does Biodegradable Waste Decompose in a Landfill?
Contrary to popular belief, new research is showing that landfills are far too crowded for biodegradable waste to properly decompose. Landfills are packed so tightly that they become anaerobic which affects the decomposability of biodegradable materials. What this means is that the rubbish is being stuffed so tightly together that this waste does not have enough oxygen to properly decompose. Unfortunately, a small amount of waste that is decomposing is being released into the atmosphere as methane. As rain water seeps into a landfill, it carries dangerous chemicals under the landfill causing groundwater contamination. Typically in a landfill, there’s very little room for microorganisms to survive due to the lack of oxygen. This becomes a real issue because it means that land that is being cleared for a landfill is literally uninhabitable by life. As our population continues to grow, we’re going to need to find more land to clear for a landfill. For this reason, it’s important that we find new ways to innovate and substitute our current methods of waste disposal for a more sustainable one that does not release so many toxic chemicals that affect our air and water quality.
What is the Best Way to Go About Waste Disposal?
Evidently, household waste is inevitable. The best thing you can do to help the environment is thoroughly assess the sort of waste that you’re disposing of and organising the waste into different categories. If you have any recyclable materials such as cardboard. Plastic or glass, you should always dispose of them in the recycling bin. If you have organic matter, you should purchase a compost bin.
For construction companies, putting together a waste management plan is an essential part of their business practices. Rather than just tossing all of their waste away, it’s essential that managers of a construction site hold their employees accountable for disposing of their waste in an environmentally conscious matter. The most responsible rubbish removal technique on a large scale construction site is to order skip bins and clearly indicate which sort of waste belongs where. Skip bin and rubbish disposal companies in Brisbane are held accountable for ethical waste management solutions. Companies like Go Bins can deliver skip bins Gold Coast to your location and even dispose of your waste if need be in a manner that adheres to Australia’s environmental waste policies.
Australia’s Environmental Waste Disposal Policies
Australia’s National Waste Policy was implemented in 2010 after being approved by all of Australia’s environmental ministers. The policy provides a framework for responsible waste disposal and resource recycling. This policy has been implemented as a strategy for moving towards a greener future in Australia. Its main implications have been in holding businesses accountable for the negative externalities caused by their practices. There are six key pillars of Australia’s National Waste Policy, these are:
- Taking Responsibility
- Improving the Market
- Pursuing Sustainability
- Reducing Hazard and Risk
- Tailoring Solutions
- Providing Evidence
Where Can I Find More Information on the Environmental Impacts of Landfills?
If you’re looking for more information on what you can be doing to help our current environmental crisis in terms of waste disposal, it never hurts to do your own research. There are plenty of articles and videos online that outline not only the environmental externalities of irresponsible waste disposal, but also the slight changes in your habits that could be making a huge difference. The battle against climate change needs to be a collective effort that is enforced on an individual level. By organising your waste, opting for biodegradable materials and using recyclable household appliances as much as possible, the world will be one step closer to a greener future.