How do landfills work?

Name______________________________________________ Date_____________
How do landfills work?
1. How much trash does the average American produce per day? Per year?
2. List the ways in which we “deal” with our trash? Which of these ways is most
3. From the video:
a. How many football fields of trash do we generate each year?
b. How big is the “hole”?
c. What is the plastic layer for?
d. How are the layers of trash lain down in a landfill?
4. How much of our trash is recycled or composted?
5. What are the four major components of our trash?
6. What has happened to trash production since 1960?
7. How much of our trash is burned?
8. How much is buried?
9. What is the difference between a dump and a landfill?
10. Compare and contrast a sanitary landfill to a municipal solid waste landfill.
11. Why doesn’t trash in a landfill decompose?
12. List and summarize each of the factors that need to be considered in the
environmental impact studies before building a landfill.
13. Label each of the layers of
the municipal solid waste landfill.
14. Describe the bottom liner
system in terms of what it is and
how it works.
15. Describe the “cell” system in the efficiency of a landfill.
16. Describe two ways that landfills are kept “dry”.
17. What is leachate and why is it dangerous?
18. How is leachate collected? Once it is treated, what happens to it?
19. How is methane generated in a landfill? How is it collected and how is it
20. How can landfills be used to generate electricity?
21. Why is it important to cover/cap cells? How is this done?
22. What steps are taken to cover part of a landfill that is full? Describe the
importance of selecting certain types of plants to grow on the landfill.
23. What are the two indicators of pollution in the water table from leachate?
24. What are tipping fees? Why do you think tipping fees would promote recycling?
At the bottom of the page, click on the Rotten Truth about Garbage.
1. In what ways do we create more waste that we will never see?
2. Fill in the percentages for the following items in our trash:
a. Paper and textiles __________
b. Metal, plastic, glass ____________
c. Yard waste ________
d. Food waste________
3. Read the timeline:
a. In what year was wood pulp first used for paper rather than rags?
b. Why were vultures protected from hunting?
c. In the 1600s- early 19th century, summarize ways in which trash was dealt with.
d. What was the purpose of piggeries?
e. In what year was corrugated cardboard first used? Paper cups?
f. In 1916, what was the dominant type of trash generated by people?
g. Why was the motto of the War Industries Board “Don’t waste waste---save it”?
h. What role did wetlands play in the story of garbage?
i. In what ways did “disposable” packaging grow in the 20th century?
j. What country invented Styrofoam and in what year?
k. Of all of the quotes in the timeline, which one is most interesting to you? Why?
l. In what year was the concept of a sanitary landfill proposed?
4. Describe the evolution of trash from the 1890s to the 1990s.
5. When we throw things away, why is there no “away”?
6. What are the tradeoffs of burning trash?
7. How much of each of the following items do we recycle? What are the benefits of
a. Aluminum
b. Paper
c. Glass
d. Plastic
8. What are the right environmental conditions for a compost pile to be able to
9. What factors affect the rate at which something breaks down?
11. Which has a lower environmental impact? A soda can or a juice box? Explain your
12. What does it mean to be a truly green product?
13. List the U.S. FTC’s Guidelines for Use of Environmental Marketing Claims.
14. Aside from consuming less, list 5 things you can do to make a difference.
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