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Disposal

Definition

Final placement or riddance of wastes, under proper process and authority, by landfill or incineration.

Minimizing Impact

Adoption of waste minimization practices and more sustainable waste management technologies will decrease the historical necessity for the disposal of wastes. However, given the current status of waste generation and waste management policies, practices and technologies, there remains a need to dispose of residual waste materials. The goal is to minimize the amount of waste that goes to landfills and the impact that landfills have on the environment. 

Municipalities can reduce the amount of waste going to landfills and promote adoption of the 3Rs by creating disincentives for waste deposal. Common examples include:

Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) programs require residents to pay on a volume basis for the disposal of their waste. The program may employ a tag or bag system or a cart system.
Tipping fees are charged at landfills on all loads based on weight.
Fines are applied to contaminated loads where waste has not been separated. 

Municipalities can also reduce the impact that landfills have on the environment through employing new technologies to improve the four critical elements in a landfill: the bottom liner, the leachate collection system, the cover, and the natural hydrogeologic setting. Bioreactor landfills are evolving from contemporary landfill designs in response to public demand for innovation to achieve more sustainable approaches to waste disposal. Bioreactor treatment of solid wastes involves design, construction and operation of a landfill cell that is specifically engineered to enhance the decomposition of wastes through careful manipulation of conditions within the site.

The primary benefits of bioreactor treatment include:

  • Rapid stabilization of wastes resulting in the shortening of a site’s contaminating lifespan during the period of time when engineered controls are most effective;
  • Faster landfill settlement allowing for optimal use of existing approved waste disposal capacity and forestalling the need for new sites;
  • In-situ treatment of leachate to reduce the contaminant loading; and
  • Enhanced landfill gas recovery potential, thereby improving the feasibility of energy generation and engaging market forces to motivate even greater levels of emission reductions.