How Do Landfills Work ?


Quick Answer

Landfills make use of a bottom liner and a daily covering of soil in order to ensure trash remains dry and does not come into contact with surrounding air or groundwater. Landfills serve to keep buried trash isolated from the surrounding environment.

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Full Answer

Landfills must be carefully constructed and require several components in order to function properly. The bottom liner used in a landfill serves to isolate trash and waste that would otherwise contaminate groundwater and may be constructed of either clay or a synthetic plastic liner. Landfills separate buried trash into a series of compartmentalized cells and utilize a storm-water drainage system in order to regulate moisture. While decomposition of stored waste is minimal, most landfills make use of a collection system to capture the methane gas produced during the breakdown of stored trash.

While landfills are designed to keep buried trash as dry as possible, many sites still need to employ a leachate collection system in order to collect, filter and regulate rainwater that has percolated through the cells. This water may contain high levels of metals and contaminants from biological waste and is typically very acidic. A covering or cap is used on the surface of a landfill, which acts as a seal and provides a greater degree of protection for buried trash.

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