The chief alternative to recycling one’s household waste is to throw it in the garbage and let the municipal trash disposal professionals get rid of it. This will, usually, mean that it ends up in a landfill. But this in itself is not new information – mostly we already knew that. The question we need to address in order to decide if we want to recycle is “what happens in the landfill?”. Is it a wise choice for our trash disposal needs?
The idea is that, when placed in landfill, the substances we throw away will biodegrade – that is, they will decompose and eventually form part of the soil. Up to a point, this is true, but one reason why people are favoring recycling is that our landfills are very quickly filling up. Not only does this mean that we are throwing away more than is decomposing, but it also means that the landfills become very tightly packed – thus not allowing oxygen – a vital part of efficient biodegrading – to get through.
A recent study took a look at various landfills and the rubbish that was found on lower levels of the compacted garbage. Some of what was found included fruit, veg and meat that was over a quarter of a century old and still recognizable. Newspapers were found from the 1950s which were still readable. In order for the process of biodegrading to be truly effective, more space would be needed –something that we aren’t going to get if we keep piling recyclable garbage on top of what is already in landfills.