What happens to waste after it is collected?


Quick Answer

After waste is collected by waste haulers, it's sent to either a landfill or transfer station before being pressed by a compactor in a landfill. A majority of trash is recycled, and what isn't remains in the landfill. Depending on the location, there might be several areas to which trash is transported. Where trash is sent depends on its proximity to the nearest landfill.

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Full Answer

If trash isn't collected by waste haulers, it's usually gathered by permitted companies that send the trash to a transfer station if the nearest landfill is too far away. Transfer stations accept trash as well as recyclable materials. The station only serves as a type of waystation on the trash's journey to the landfill.

Trash is compacted in a landfill in order to squeeze out all of the air inside and to make it smaller and more contained. When trash first arrives in a landfill, it's gathered in an open cell before being transported elsewhere. Once full, the cell is then permanently covered with dirt or another material. Landfills are bordered by special materials designed to keep contaminants from spilling out, and there also exist special collectors designed to absorb any methane gas given off by the trash. That gas can then be used to power local homes.

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