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Rubbish Fact 6: What a load of Rubbish!

Site Solutions like to keep things topical. So unless you’ve been under a rock for the past month, you’ll be familiar with how the UK is currently weathering an uncertain storm. With many business closures and the public (mostly) in isolation, it’s a strange time. One major industry stream that has seen closures this week are household waste and recycling sites.

So, we thought this might be a good opportunity for our next instalment of ‘Rubbish Facts’. We want to show you all we know about household waste, where it goes and some useless, but interesting stats!

A few household waste stats to kick things off…

  • On average 16% of the money spent on your weekly food and product produce is spent on the packaging
  • As much as 50% of waste disposal in your bin, is compostable
  • Is your car is at the end of its life and ready for the scrap heap? Up to 80% of your car is recyclable
  • Household waste accounts for approximately 28% of the UK’s entire waste. Which includes construction and commercial waste!

Imagine, it’s the end of the week. You have split your waste into the recycling bin and the dustbin. Your weekly bin night has arrived and you wheel the dustbin out of the back garden to be collected early the next day. Do you think about where your waste goes next? Probably not. But here’s some interesting details on where your rubbish ends up.

How does landfill work?

Firstly, on arrival all waste is weighed and checked to ensure it complies with the ‘landfill operating licence rules.

Next, the waste is tipped into the landfill area.

Compacting

Compacting is the next important step. Large bulldozers and tractors travel over the waste to compact it. This ideally takes place as soon as possible. Covering it with soil in this way ensures the landfill is covered to reduce odours and deter pests, such as rats and insects.

Decompostion

Decomposition is the next stage. Waste and recycling management firm, Suez explains it in technical terms on their website:

‘Waste in landfills decomposes as microbes break it down naturally under anaerobic (absence of oxygen) conditions. This decomposition, combined with rainwater filtering through the landfill, produces liquid, called leachate, and gas.’

The gas production during composition is collected and either burned off or used as an energy source to generate plants.

What happens next?

The leachate produced is contained and drained into tankers and treated. Alternatively, it is used for onsite treatment plants where it is cleaned and disposed to the sewer or waste course.

Landfills take many years to reach capacity. However, when one does, the landfill is capped and covered with clay and vegetation. This is to keep a barrier in place but it also stops odours and anything else polluting it.

A lot of weekly rubbish ends up converted into electricity which powers the National Grid.

One final fact about landfill waste

While the fact a lot of waste gets reused. Alarmingly, the largest landfill on earth is actually the North Pacific Ocean. Called the ‘Great Pacific garbage patch‘, it’s estimated to be anywhere from 3,100 to 537,000 square miles, (twice the size of Texas).