Facts on Landfills

Written by simon fuller
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Facts on Landfills
Landfill sites can contain anything from plastic containers to computer monitors. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Engineered spaces designed to accommodate the tremendous amounts of waste people throw away each year---from plastic bottles to television sets---landfills have a vital role in waste disposal. Information about landfills attracts the attention of many people, especially those concerned about the consequences of how we dispose of waste, and many authorities publish facts about landfill use for the attention of the public.

Decreasing Landfills

Landfills aren't as common across the United States as they once were. In fact, the number of landfill sites has been much reduced since the 1980s. According to data from the Environmental Protection Agency, the number of landfill sites stood at 7,924 in 1988. In 2005, a mere 1,654 of those still existed, a reduction of almost 8,000 landfills. In many cases, closed landfills were a result of two or more sites combining, with the idea being that a single larger and more encompassing landfill site is better for the environment than two smaller landfills.

Population and Landfill Use

The population of the United States grew significantly in the latter half of the 20th century, increasing by 116.43 million people from 1960 to 2005, according to the Postcom website. Yet while the number of available landfill sites decreased, the actual need for waste disposal was reduced, too. According to the Postcom website, in 2005, the United States sent some 133.3 million tons of waste material to be deposited at landfill sites, but in 1980, the amount sent to landfill was more, despite the lower population in 1980.

Landfill As Percentage

One public concern about the use of landfills is that as each site becomes larger to accommodate waste, the amount of total space devoted to landfill will continue to grow until it envelops more and more of the U.S. countryside. However, the total amount of space given over to landfill is roughly 560,000 acres, according to the Opposing Views website; when this is considered next to the total size of the United States---2.3 billion acres---it's a tiny number, around 0.02 per cent of the total land. More land is given to golf courses in the United States---2.5 million acres---than landfill, as pointed out by the Opposing Views website.

Computer Equipment

Personal computers take up plenty of space in landfill sites, with at least 150 million PCs being deposited in landfill as of 2005, according to National Safety Council estimates. Not only can computers themselves contain up to 6.3 per cent lead, as pointed out by the Space Age Recycle Solutions website, but the related equipment could pose an environmental threat. Computer monitors---or CRTS---also contain lead, which can lead to environmental damage, and these are also buried alongside PC hardware.

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