Q. How do modern landfills protect the environment?
A. The purpose of solid waste management is to remove wastes from living areas in a way that protects human health and the environment. By sealing in wastes, well designed and well managed landfills control biodegradation and tend to preserve waste rather than compost it. Uncontrolled biodegradation could result in production of leachate that, if leaked, would endanger nearby groundwater supplies, lakes and streams. Many landfills include heavy-gauge plastic liners, which are required by the EPA, that help protect the groundwater from contamination.

 

Q. Can degradable plastics contribute to solid waste management?
A. In areas where composting or wastewater treatment is available as a solid waste disposal option, degradable plastics can effectively take advantage of these alternate disposal methods in some situations. Because modern landfills are apt to limit degradation, degradable materials of any type are not likely to affect the amount of landfill space available. Composting degradable plastics and paper waste with other organic compostable materials like yard, food and agricultural waste creates a valuable soil supplement and contributes to improved farming and gardening efficiency. Flushable, biodegradable products are readily treated in a regulated wastewater and sewage treatment facility, reducing the impact on other disposal systems.