Styrofoam is one of the worst materials found in landfills. Approximately 1,369 tons of styrofoam gets dumped in landfills every day. It takes centuries for styrofoam to degrade. Burning styrofoam can also release dangerous chemicals into the air. Even just being exposed to sunlight can cause chemicals to be released.
Plastics make up about 20-25% of weight in landfills. Scientists are researching new plastics engineered to be biodegradable, but with only 20% moisture in solid waste in landfills, there would not be enough to react with the biomass in these plastics.
Most plastics in landfills are not recovered for recycling, only about 7% is. Plastic bottles make up for half the recyclable material in landfills. Incinerating or composting plastics in landfills releases chemicals into the environment, like methane and carbon dioxide.
Other than styrofoam and plastics, old electronic devices are quite dangerous. With the increase in use of technological devices by the general public, the more people will dispose of them. Not everyone has access to electronic recycling facilities or are unaware that they even exist. The harmful thing about dumping electronics in the garbage is that heavy metals and other products used to build the products can release harmful elements into the soil and groundwater. The compounds and metals take hundreds of years to degrade and become incorporated into the ground, causing great potential harm.
Any material that has a use,whether economically viable or not, shouldnt go in the landfill….but as long as waste is engineered into everyday products, we will not change till a plastic cup cost more than the drink we put in it. The future of landfills is Polymer Demolecularization….were the landfill becomes our future mines.
It may not be the most dangerous, but it is certainly makes up a great deal of the waste in landfills: disposable diapers. Americans throw away 570 diapers a second, making that number 49 MILLION a DAY… and that’s just America! Diapers take a very long time to decompose since they contain oil-based plastics and chlorine.
Organic materials. Food scraps, dead plants, anything that could break down naturally will not in a landfill, it will be capped with clay and sit there. As earthday78 noted, anything that can be reused or recycled shouldn’t be thrown away, but organic materials especially because it’s the only time when littering would have been preferable. An apple core tossed in the bushes will be broken down, but an apple core in a compacted landfill will not.
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