Chopped by Stanley Ndigho
© TED-Ed

Landfills - How harmful are they?

SDG 6 SDG 12

Landfill sites are ugly. And it’s not just the eye sore of increasing piles of waste that’s the problem, landfills are a major source of pollution, and there are many negative issues associated with them. Rubbish buried in landfill breaks down at a very slow rate and remains a problem for future generations.

It takes a year or more to fill each landfill cell, during which time the contents are naturally exposed to rainfall. Rainwater filtering through the landfill dissolves and flushes 5-7 percent of the toxins with it to create a foul smelling liquor, known as leachate, which contains ammonia and various toxic salts.

Depending on rainfall, a single landfill site can easily produce several Olympic sized swimming pools of leachate each year. Leachate is carefully collected and recirculated into the landfill cells to prevent contamination of land, groundwater and waterways. Some leachate is reabsorbed when passed back into landfill, but the rest filters through again, picking up more toxins with each pass.

Chopped by

Stanley Ndigho

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