What is a landfill?
A landfill is a carefully designed structure built into or on top of the ground, in which trash is separated from the area around it.

Landfill Diagram

Why are landfills important?
Landfills contain garbage and serve to prevent contamination between the waste and the surrounding environment, especially groundwater.

What happens to the trash in a landfill?
Landfills are not designed to break down trash, merely to bury it. That’s because they contain minimal amounts of oxygen and moisture, which prevents trash from breaking down rapidly. So landfills are carefully filled, monitored and maintained while they are active and for up to 30 years after they are closed.

What is the difference between a dump and a landfill?
A dump is an open hole in the ground where trash is buried and where animals often swarm. Dumps offer no environmental protection and are not regulated.

A landfill is a carefully designed and monitored structure that isolates trash from the surrounding environment (e.g., groundwater, air, rain). This isolation is accomplished with the use of a bottom liner and daily covering of soil.

The main components of any secured, permitted landfill are:

Bottom liner — The bottom liner separates and prevents the buried waste from coming in contact with underlying natural soils and groundwater. In Municipal Solid Waste landfills, the bottom liners are generally constructed using some type of durable, puncture-resistant synthetic plastic HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) ranging from 30 to 100 mils thick. The plastic liners may also be designed with a combination of compacted clay soils, along with synthetic plastic.

Cells (old and new) — This is the area in a landfill that has been constructed and approved for disposal of waste. These cells range in size (depending upon total tons of waste received each day at the landfill) from a few acres to as large as 20+ acres. Inside these larger cells are smaller cells known as the daily workface, or sometimes referred to as cells. This is where the waste coming into the landfill for disposal that day is prepared by placing the material in layers or lifts where the waste is then compacted and shredded by heavy landfill compaction machinery.

Leachate collection system — The bottom of each landfill is typically designed so that the bottom surface of the landfill is sloped to a low point, called a sump. This is where any liquids that are trapped inside the landfill — known in the waste industry as leachate — are collected and removed from the landfill. The leachate collection system typically consists of a series of perforated pipes, gravel packs and a layer of sand or gravel placed in the bottom of the landfill. Once the leachate is removed from the sump, it is typically pumped or gravity-flowed to a holding tank or pond, where it is either treated on site or hauled off site to a public or private wastewater treatment facility.

Storm water drainage — This is an engineered system designed to control water runoff during rain or storm events. This is done by directing the runoff through a series of berms or ditches to holding areas known as sed ponds. In these ponds the runoff water flow is slowed down or held long enough to allow the suspended soil particles to settle out before the water is discharged off site.

Methane collection system — Bacteria in the landfill break down the trash in the absence of oxygen. This process produces landfill gas, which is approximately 50 percent methane. Since methane gas has the potential to burn or explode, it has to be removed from the landfill. To do this, a series of pipes are embedded within the landfill to collect the methane gas. This gas, once collected, can be either naturally vented or control-burned.

Cover (or cap) — Waste that is placed in a cell is required to be covered daily with either six inches of compacted soil or an alternative daily cover. Some examples of alternative daily covers are the application of spray-on cover material, such as foam or a flame-retardant fiber material. Another type of alternative daily cover is large panels of tarpaulin-type material that is laid over the waste at the end of each day and removed the next day before waste is placed. Other areas within the cells that are not to final grade and will not receive placement of additional waste for a period of time may require additional cover. This is known as intermediate cover — generally 12 to 18 inches of soil. Covering (or capping) is performed in order to isolate the waste from exposure to the air, pests (such as birds, rats and mice) and to control odors. When a section of the landfill is finished or filled to capacity, it is permanently covered with a combination of a layer of polyethylene plastic, compacted soil and a layer of topsoil that will support growth of vegetation to prevent erosion.

Groundwater monitoring stations — These stations are set up to directly access and test the groundwater around the landfill for presence of leachate chemicals. Typically a groundwater monitoring system will have a series of wells that are located up-gradient of the landfill disposal area and a series of wells down-gradient. The up-gradient wells test the water quality before it moves under the disposal area in order to get a background analysis of the water. The down-gradient wells then allow testing of the water after it has passed under the disposal area so it can be compared to the quality of the up-gradient wells to make sure there has been no impact or contamination of the groundwater


Municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill — A highly engineered, state permitted disposal facility where municipal solid waste (non-hazardous waste generated from single family and multi-family residences, hotels , and the like including commercial and industrial waste) may be disposed of for long-term care and monitoring. All modern MSW landfills must meet or exceed federal subtitle D regulations to ensure environmentally safe and secure disposal facilities.

Construction & Demolition landfill— Construction and demolition (C&D) debris refers to materials produced in the process of construction, renovation and/or demolition of structures, where structures include debris typically includes concrete, asphalt, wood, gypsum wallboard, paper, glass, rubble, and roofing materials. Land clearing debris, such as stumps, rocks, and dirt are also included in some state definitions. C&D debris landfills are classified as non-hazardous and are regulated by states and local governments.

Inert landfill — Inert material consists of earth and earth-like products, concrete, cured asphalt, rock, bricks, yard trimmings, and land clearing debris such as stumps, limbs and leaves. These materials, depending on the state’s definition, are allowable by law to be disposed of in inert landfills.


Converting landfill gas to energy is how mature landfills deal with the issue of gases created within their facilities. It is an effective means of recycling and reusing a valuable resource. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has endorsed landfill gas as an environmentally friendly energy resource that reduces our reliance on fossil fuels, such as coal and oil. Landfill gas-to-energy projects are most successful when partnered with mature MSW landfills, as opposed to new landfills or C&D landfills

There are three basic types of landfill gas-to-energy facilities:

Electric — Landfill gas is used as a fuel to generate electricity at small power plants at the landfill, or at a nearby industry, with the generated electricity delivered to a utility company.

Alternative fuel — Landfill gas is piped to an industrial or commercial facility, where it is used for heating in place of, or in combination with, fossil fuels such as oil, coal or natural gas.

Processed gas — Landfill gas is processed and cleaned to natural gas quality and delivered to transmission pipelines, to be used in normal applications for natural gas.

MRF Diagram


omposting is a simple way to add nutrient-rich humus which fuels plant growth and restores vitality to depleted soil. It’s also free, easy to make and good for the environment.






Composting Benefits
Soil conditioner: With compost, you are creating rich humus for lawn and garden. This adds nutrients to your plants and helps retain moisture in the soil.

Recycles kitchen and yard waste: Composting can divert as much as 30% of household waste away from the garbage can.

Introduces beneficial organisms to the soil:
Microscopic organisms in compost help aerate the soil, break down organic material for plant use and ward off plant disease.

Good for the environment:
Composting offers a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers.

Reduces landfill waste:
Most landfills in North America are quickly filling up; many have already closed down. One-third of landfill waste is made up of compostable materials.

What to Compost
 table scraps
 add with dry carbon items
 fruit & vegetable scraps
 add with dry carbon items
 best when crushed
 leaves break down faster when shredded
 grass clippings
 add in thin layers so they don’t mat into clumps
 garden plants
 use disease-free plants only
 lawn & garden weeds
 only use weeds which have not gone to seed
 shrub prunings
 woody prunings are slow to break down
 straw or hay
 straw is best; hay (with seeds) is less ideal
 green comfrey leaves
 excellent compost ‘activator’
 pine needles
 acidic; use in moderate amounts
 flowers, cuttings
 chop up any long woody stems
 seaweed and kelp
 apply in thin layers; good source for trace minerals
 wood ash
 only use ash from clean materials; sprinkle lightly
 chicken manure
 excellent compost ‘activator’
 coffee grounds
 filters may also be included
 tea leaves
 loose or in bags
 avoid using glossy paper and colored inks
 shredded paper
 avoid using glossy paper and colored inks
 shred material to avoid matting
 corn cobs, stalks
 slow to decompose; best if chopped up
 dryer lint
 best if from natural fibers
 sawdust pellets
 high carbon levels; add in layers to avoid clumping
 wood chips / pellets
 high carbon levels; use sparingly
You can also add garden soil to your compost. A layer of soil will help to mask any odors, and micro-organisms in the soil will accelerate the composting process.

Do not compost meat, bones or fish scraps (they will attract pests), perennial weeds (they can be spread with the compost) or diseased plants. Do not not include pet manures in compost that will be used on food crops. Banana peels, peach peels and orange rinds may contain pesticide residue, and should be kept out of the compost. Black walnut leaves should not be composted. Sawdust may be added to the compost, but should be mixed or scattered thinly to avoid clumping. Be sure sawdust is clean, with no machine oil or chain oil residues from cutting equipment.For kitchen wastes, keep a container with a lid and a handle under the sink. Consider using a stainless steel compost pail with air filter, or the ceramic model. If you don’t mind occasional smells, use an old ice-cream pail. Chop up any large chunks before you toss them in. When the container is full, take it out to your composter and toss in the contents.

With yard and garden wastes, different composting materials will decompose at different rates but they will all break down eventually. If you want to speed up the composting process, chop the larger material into smaller pieces. Leaves and grass clippings are also excellent for compost, but should be sprinkled into the bin with other materials, or dug in to the center of the ple and mixed. Avoid putting them on in thin layers – they will mat together and reduce aeration, which slows the composting process.

How to Compost
1. Start your compost pile on bare earth. This allows worms and other beneficial organisms to aerate the compost and be transported to your garden beds.

2. Lay twigs or straw first, a few inches deep. This aids drainage and helps aerate the pile.

3. Add compost materials in layers, alternating moist and dry. Moist ingredients are food scraps, tea bags, seaweed, etc. Dry materials are straw, leaves, sawdust pellets and wood ashes. If you have wood ashes, sprinkle in thin layers, or they will clump together and be slow to break down.

4. Add manure, green manure ( clover, buckwheat, wheatgrass, grass clippings) or any nitrogen source. This activates the compost pile and speeds the process along.

5. Keep compost moist. Water occasionally, or let rain do the job.

6. Cover with anything you have – wood, plastic sheeting, carpet scraps. Covering helps retain moisture and heat, two essentials for compost. Covering also prevents the compost from being over-watered by rain. The compost should be moist, but not soaked and sodden.

7. Turn. Every few weeks give the pile a quick turn with a pitchfork or shovel. This aerates the pile. Oxygen is required for the process to work, and turning “adds” oxygen. You can skip this step if you have a ready supply of coarse material, like straw.

Once your compost pile is established, add new materials by mixing them in, rather than by adding them in layers. Mixing, or turning, the compost pile is key to aerating the composting materials and speeding the process to completion.


Carbon/Nitrogen Ratio
All compostable materials are either carbon or nitrogen-based, to varying degrees. The secret to a healthy compost pile is to maintain a working balance between these two elements.
Carbon carbon-rich matter (like branches, stems, dried leaves, peels, bits of wood, bark dust or sawdust pellets, shredded brown paper bags, corn stalks, coffee filters, conifer needles, egg shells, straw, peat moss, wood ash) gives compost its light, fluffy body.

Nitrogen – nitrogen or protein-rich matter (manures, food scraps, green lawn clippings and green leaves) provides raw materials for making enzymes.

A healthy compost pile should have much more carbon than nitrogen. A simple rule of thumb is to use one-third green and two-thirds brown materials. The bulkiness of the brown materials allows oxygen to penetrate and nourish the organisms that reside there. Too much nitrogen makes for a dense, smelly, slowly decomposing anaerobic mass. Good composting hygiene means covering fresh nitrogen-rich material, which can release odors if exposed to open air, with carbon-rich material, which often exudes a fresh, wonderful smell. If in doubt, add more carbon!
Simplest Composting Methods
~ “No-turn” composting
The biggest chore with composting is turning the pile from time to time. However, with ‘no-turn composting’, your compost can be aerated without turning.
The secret is to thoroughly mix in enough coarse material, like straw, when building the pile. The compost will develop as fast as if it were turned regularly, and studies show that the nitrogen level may be even higher than with turned compost.
With ‘no-turn’ composting, add new materials to the top of the pile, and harvest fresh compost from the bottom of the bin. This can be easily done in an Aerobin Composter, or a WIBO compost bin.
composting leaves ~ Composting leaves
If you have too many leaves to incorporate into the compost bin, you can simply compost the pile of leaves by itself. Locate the pile where drainage is adequate; a shaded area will help keep the pile from drying out.

Six habits


We tend to travel through the day with a million things buzzing around in our brains. Things to do, things to remember, things we’re worried about. These are generally stressful or negative things — or neutral at best.

Practicing gratitude is an easy way to consciously channel some positivity from within. It’s easy — just grab a pen and paper, or your note-taking app on your smartphone, and write down three to five things that you are thankful for today.

It could be something very specific, like the way you got recognized at work for doing a good job on that presentation. Or it could be general, like the fact that your children are healthy and safe. Or the fact that you have so much healthy food in the fridge.

These things might seem silly, but it’s important to remember that not everyone has what you have. We all have so much that is worth feeling grateful for!

Studies show that writing down a few things you’re thankful for each day goes a long way toward the overall feeling of happiness. Practicing gratitude is one of the easiest ways to increase the satisfaction you feel with life. It’s a great way to remind yourself of the good things in life, and the big picture, rather than getting wrapped up in the small stresses and obstacles of the day.


As soon as you wake up in the morning, take a few minutes to step outside, breathe the fresh air, and soak in some sun. Even if it’s winter and you have to bundle up — exposing your eyes to natural light outdoors cues your brain to feel alert, alive and productive.

If you can, expose your skin (at least face and arms) to sunlight for 20 minutes a day around midday. This is great for your immunity and vitamin D levels!

Get your heart pumping

We know that everyone harps on about exercise, but this isn’t another refrain about going to the gym. We’re talking about just a couple of minutes here and there to get your blood and lymph fluid coursing through your body.

Do 20 jumping jacks in the bathroom, or get down and do a 30-second plank, or run up the stairs. This is a great way to oxygenate the brain and tissues, and relieve built-up stress, too. Try to build in at least four sessions of increased heart rate (even briefly) per day.

Social connection

Connecting with other people is vital for emotional well-being. Try sitting down for a cup of tea with a colleague, or even getting back on the phone! Email and text messaging is too impersonal. Hearing your friend or loved one’s voice will warm your heart and give you a moment to treasure all day long!


You don’t have to be a monk on a hilltop to meditate. This really just comes down to taking a quiet moment to yourself to clear your mind.

Legs up before bed

Again, this is a very simple practice, but a powerful one. Before going to bed, simply sit down, scooch your bum up to the wall and lie down with your legs straight up. This pose does wonders for any tension in the pelvis, lower back, neck and shoulders. It also prevents blood clots and varicose veins in the legs. You will immediately breathe deeper and sleep easier after having done this for five minutes each night