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30th of April 2020Composting & recycling

What goes into landfill?

Wondering what types of materials end up in landfill? Find out what goes in landfill and why we need to rethink our current linear economy and move towards a circular economy.


Have you ever wondered what goes in landfill? Often discussions around waste collection, including what gets recycled and what goes to landfill, can be confusing.

So why should you care?

Let’s start with some (alarming) stats:

  • Each year, 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste is generated around the globe (source). Sadly, much of this is not managed in an environmentally responsible manner.
  • In Australia, food waste makes up to 41% of the rubbish in household bins
  • Landfill gas (LFG) – a byproduct of the decomposition of organic material in landfills – is composed of roughly 50 percent methane and 50 percent carbon dioxide (CO2) and a small amount of non-methane organic compounds (source).
  • Waste in Australia from the commercial sector is projected to be 21 million tonnes by 2020 (source)

In other words, the waste sent to landfills is a combination of organic waste from households, as well as waste from the commercial sector, and from construction sites.

What is landfill?

Landfills are the final destination for an enormous amount of waste that is not recycled, composted, reused or repurposed. They are designed for the purpose of storing waste – not letting it decompose or ‘break down’.

When waste is stored like this, it has detrimental environmental consequences: organic waste in landfill releases a methane gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide (source) and waste sent to landfill also produces a substance called leachate – a toxic liquid that can pollute waterways and the natural environment.

But there are viable alternatives to landfill that can help divert waste sent to landfill, and fight climate change.

What are the alternatives to landfills?

Utilising alternatives to landfill means pursuing a circular economy where materials are recycled, reused, and repurposed. Let’s look at what these alternatives are:

Recycling

Recycling is a crucial part of the circular economy. Most commonly, recyclable products are hard plastics, glass, and paper products.

With different councils and towns having different rules for recycling, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding correct methods of disposal for certain products. The easiest way to figure this out is to do a quick Google search – most council websites will have a page detailing what products can and can’t be recycled.

Composting

Composting is a proven solution for the collection and diversion of food waste and compostable packaging from landfill. Many of our packaging solutions can be composted at home. Simply drop the packaging in the compost bin with your food scraps and organics. The worms will thank you. Look out for these symbols: