“A lot of things we loathe exist to serve us.” – Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power
We get it – people don’t like landfills or even the idea of landfills. Their existence, to some, is offensive to the idea of progress and to modern sensibilities. Landfills sometime evoke an emotional reaction – and that feeling is often less than favorable.
Some folks wish they didn’t exist at all.
Feelings or wishes aside, the inescapable fact is that modern landfills – highly regulated, extensively engineered, relentlessly permitted – play an important role in how our society currently manages the waste it produces and are a crucial part of the infrastructure necessary to manage public and environmental health.
We can pretend landfills shouldn’t exist, but that’s emotion rather than clear-eyed fact. We may not like them – we may even loathe them – but they make modern life possible, and safe. And, they’re a bridge to the future as we make greater and faster progress towards how we can conserve, renew, and regenerate our resources.
Here are four ways landfills still serve us:
- Modern life needs and expects an integrated approach to managing waste and resources. We all have businesses and households to run, and although we’re all working together to figure out how to reduce, reuse, and recycle more, there’s still waste that needs to be disposed of safely. Landfills, for now, are part of a complementary system – a holistic approach – that serves the needs of our economy and our society.
- There are many materials that society just hasn’t figured out how to recycle yet. When most of us think about waste, we picture household garbage. But much of the waste produced nationally consists of industrial residuals, sludges, soils, and ashes that don’t yet have a higher and better use. Until better solutions emerge in the future for these types of materials, they need to be safely disposed.
- There are times when the protection of human and environmental health requires the availability of quick and reliable disposal resources. During natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes, our communities rely upon us to manage large volumes of unrecyclable debris as part of round-the-clock emergency efforts to clear streets, repair infrastructure, and bring critical services to local citizens in need.
- Some of our best closed loop solutions begin as disposal streams at landfills. At Casella, when a new disposal stream begins arriving at our facilities, it enters the crosshairs of our resource management team. We learn as much as we can about it and, perhaps most importantly, we begin developing relationships with its generators. The opportunities are significant – how can we begin to turn waste into a closed loop success story, and further build that bridge to the future.
Our daily focus is to run safe facilities and lessen their impacts to the greatest extent possible. Along with a growing number of our customers, we support efforts to achieve zero waste. We even envision a future where landfills become progressively less necessary as we find higher uses for more and more waste. In the meantime, we are putting our expertise and our resources to work to provide safe, secure, and affordable disposal options with the smallest possible environmental footprint.
Landfills are making the necessary journey to sustainability possible.