Today’s Recycling and Waste Disposal
The most traditional and recognisable method of waste disposal is probably the landfill site. Once noted as environmental black spots, often begun with poor or little planning or design they were home to vermin and noxious gas and liquid production.
Waste management today, hand in hand with recycling, reprocessing, energy recovery and international environmental awareness, is an exacting science and in the UK a world away from waste resources of even forty years ago.
Landfill today is run as any modern industry or processing plants. The site to be filled is lined with clay or leachate. The waste is continually compacted and compressed using modern powerful machines, either wheeled or tracked, or both. This continues, layer by layer producing a virtually solid and stable fill.
It will have an in built gas extraction system allowing for long term gas controls after the topsoil covering finishes of the site.
“Thermal treatment” is the waste disposal system of incineration. It reduces generally compacted waste to heat, gas, ash, and steam. In some cases the furnaces are used for the generation of heat for turbines to generate electricity, but the possibilities of noxious or even dangerous gas production as a by-product make this a contentious method.
Food and garden type waste are processed to be recycled into economically viable re-uses.
Food waste can be broken down in anaerobic digestion plants. The food waste stripped of any wrappings and screened before being fed into anaerobic digesters.
These digesters house the process through which micro-organisms break down the waste in an oxygen free environment, producing methane gas and nutrient rich arable fertilisers.
Garden waste is now commonly treated at composting sites, which shred the waste material and using powerful machinery heap the shredded waste into long heaps or “windrows”. These are turned over during the composting process, encouraging oxygen content.
This action also distributes and controls moisture levels and heat generation. The process can take anything from two to six weeks and the resulting rich compost used in horticulture and gardening.
Many materials can be recycled today, with modern technology, as a matter of course. Glass can be recycled time and time again. Aluminium recycling is a huge industry, and a batch of empty drink cans can be picked up today, be processed and presented back on the retailer’s shelf as a brand new product within six weeks.
Almost all metal products can be recycled, from motor cars to saucepans, the technology exists, and as natural resources dwindle, so recycling grows in importance.