Renewable Energy & Sustainability News

5 Ways Landfills Impact Our Environment


Landfills are large, excavated plots of land that are specifically designed and built to receive waste…everything from appliances and newspapers to yard trimmings and food scraps. As of 2012, there are approximately 1,900 active municipal solid waste landfills in the United States and they’re having a major affect on our landscape.

  1. Professor William Rathje of the University of Arizona studied waste that was buried for more than 15 years and discovered legible newspapers and chicken bones with meat still on them. What does that mean? Well, waste doesn’t really decompose 100% in a landfill. When a landfill is topped out, it’s covered with dirt but the waste is still there, buried beneath the soil.
  2. Some landfills can pose major problems. If the protective liner leaks, for example, the underlying soil and ground water can become contaminated.
  3. Landfills are often located in remote places. That’s good for housing developments, but potentially bad for the environment. Because landfills are isolated, waste is typically hauled long distances and that can result in more air pollution due to increased truck traffic.
  4. Some landfills – like the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” – are located near the ocean. When waste blows into the water from the landfill, it can take years to degrade. In the meantime, debris travels along the ocean’s current and accumulates in large patches on our beaches.
  5. In 2012, the U.S. generated more than 36 million tons of food waste – a significant source of methane, which has 21x the global warming potential of CO2.

Here at Renergy, our mission is to divert waste away from landfills. Our anaerobic digestion facilities repurpose agricultural, food, industrial and municipal waste, turning it into green, renewable energy. Not only does this reduce harmful emissions, but it also produces clean power.


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Cari Oberfield