What is a landfill site?

What is a landfill site?

A landfill site is an area of land that is used to dump rubbish, either directly on the ground or filling an unwanted hole in the ground. 

Why do we need landfill sites?

We need landfill sites to dispose of rubbish that cannot be reused or recycled. New technologies are being developed to reduce the amount of rubbish that is sent to landfill each year, for instance Energy Recovery Facilities (ERF) and composting.

What type of rubbish does a landfill site contain?

Landfill sites contain both household and commercial rubbish.

Household rubbish is mostly organic, for example food, paper, cardboard or wood. Other household rubbish contains plastic or tin packaging. Sites filled up before 1960 contained very little organic matter. This is because most people burned their rubbish on open fires at home. Find out more about what’s in our rubbish.

Most of the rubbish put in landfill sites today is from construction and commercial businesses, such as soil, concrete and brick rubble. This is known as inert waste because it is unlikely to react with other rubbish, making it relatively safe for landfill.

A lot of inert waste is used for building roads on the landfill site or to cover the site when it is full.

Why does the rubbish produce gas and liquids?

Organic waste produces bacteria which break the rubbish down. The decaying rubbish produces weak acidic chemicals which combine with liquids in the waste to form leachate and landfill gas.

What is leachate?

Leachate is the liquid produced in a landfill site. As the acids from decaying waste react with other rubbish, the leachate can become toxic. To prevent leachate contaminating nearby streams, it is collected and disposed of at a waste water treatment plant.

What is landfill gas?

Landfill gases contain methane and carbon dioxide, plus small amounts of other gases that produce a sweet, sickly smell. Methane is flammable and can cause explosions, so some landfill sites burn off the gas or use it to generate electricity.

One tonne of degradable rubbish produces about 400–500 cubic metres of landfill gas. As a result the gas emissions from landfill sites are monitored for many years after the sites have stopped accepting rubbish.

Are there any landfill sites in East Sussex accepting waste?

There used to be several landfill sites in East Sussex but they are no longer in operation accepting waste.

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