A landfill is a location that is used to store and dispose of waste materials. These materials are eventually covered with soil and buried. Much more than just a dump, a landfill represents a long-term solution that is well maintained, carefully organized, well-managed and an effective use of space. Gaining prominence when the government assumed the responsibility of waste management in 70's, landfills eventually completely replaced dumps as the basic method of waste disposal and management in the United States.
What is the difference between a landfill and a dump?
Landfills have replaced dumps because they are a well-engineered alternative. Landfills have to be obedient to strict government rules, while private companies operate dumps. Dumps are now illegal in most places as they lack governance and were causing major issues by polluting water supplies, attracting rats and other pests, and creating extremely unpleasant odors which directly impacted the areas around them. Landfills take up a relatively small area, and soil is layered in. Eventually, the waste is buried in soil, and the land can be reused. Landfills are required to have accountability measures like leachate treatment systems, infrastructure for groundwater testing, and must be covered with soil on a daily basis.
Why are Landfills important?
Waste management is a major issue because people dispose of a ton of garbage. If there were no special attention paid to how we handle waste materials, there would be a negative impact on public health.
How many Landfills are there in the U.S. today?
Because so many landfills close, the number is always shifting. Currently, there are over 2,000 active landfills in the U.S. Over 10,000 landfills have closed in recent years. In previous decades, every town would have its own dump, but landfills strive to make better use of space. Although there are fewer landfills than there were dumps, some landfills are massive: the biggest is Puente Hills Landfill, which is 10 miles east of Los Angeles. Puente Hills Landfill covers over 700 acres and is as much as 500 feet deep.