Landfill capacity: An “unnatural” resource

Landfill photo by D'Arcy Norman via Flickr

What happens when our local landfills run out of capacity?  Where will our trash go then?

Understandably, this is a worry not only for trash companies that profit from hauling our garbage to landfills, but it is also a concern for sanitation officials.

In Ventura County, our sanitation officials are considering a trash-to-energy plant, according to an article in the Ventura County Star.  The trash is superheated, not burned, and the county could keep current landfills open much longer, because the remains of the trash are reduced to 10 percent of its previous bulk.

But, finding a solution to one problem leads to several others.

  1. The ever-present “NIMBY” syndrome (which I absolutely understand).
  2. The cost to build each plant is $25 million.
  3. The additional  air pollution.

I know many people in Ventura county are participating in trash reduction and recycling, but as I understand, our landfills are also taking trash from outside the county.  Why not try other approaches before committing to the trash-to-energy plant:

  1. Step up awareness and incentivize or recognize efforts for further trash reduction and recycling.
  2. Expand recycling to all businesses and multi-family homes.
  3. All trash haulers in Ventura County should provide single-stream trash service, so less recyclables make it to landfills.
  4. Stop allowing others to use a limited, “unnatural” resource — in this case landfill capacity.

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