While it occupies a less desirable spot on the lower end of the hierarchy, landfilling is a common form of waste management. It does not provide the opportunity for recovery of resources from your waste and is one of the least sustainable, long-term approaches to waste management. 1

Key points to consider about landfills. 2

  • As waste breaks down in landfills, it can release methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • Landfills pose a serious potential for soil and groundwater contamination if they are not properly constructed and maintained.
  • Waste is not destroyed in landfills and requires ongoing management.
  • Resource recovery does not occur in landfills.

The effects of landfills

  • Companies - pollution concerns create the potential for corporate liability and negative publicity.
  • Communities - landfills create jobs in the waste disposal industry, but expose citizens to potential hazards such as methane gas, soil contamination and groundwater contamination.
  • Environment - landfills confine waste to a defined geographic area, but create possibilities for numerous hazards, including soil, water and air pollution; they also eliminate habitat for local wildlife.