Many people never think about where their garbage goes after it leaves the curb or is dropped down the chute. So it’s even less likely that anyone would wonder about how much space their waste takes up in a landfill. But, someone — like me — has to think about these things.
Currently there is only one open landfill in Halton Region which is located in the Town of Milton. It opened for “Bag 1” in 1992 and was scheduled to close 20 years later based on projections of the community’s garbage. If you do the math…the landfill was scheduled to close next year! But, since the 90s, things have really changed regarding waste in Halton. So, what happened?
Waste diversion happened! Since the Halton Waste Management Site opened, participation in the Blue Box recycling program grew and, more recently, the GreenCart program was introduced. Yard Waste composting continues to be incredibly successful.
These changes have reduced the amount of garbage that needs to be disposed of, so Halton is now on track to more than double the landfill’s life to approximately 2040. This is a good news story! The 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) really work!
When you think about it, every open landfill is built to close. It’s a fact. Landfills are limited resources that need to be consumed — or used up — very carefully. Modern landfills take plenty of know-how to design, build and operate. How long a landfill remains open depends on how slowly or quickly a community is making garbage that needs burying.
Let’s say, for instance, there was a huge reversal in the amount of people recycling and composting. Would the landfill’s life be impacted immediately? Definitely—it would shorten considerably. The garbage bags would be fuller than ever, like they were back in the days of “Bag 1.” Even a small drop in 3Rs participation by residents shows up as a decrease in landfill life almost instantly.
If a community suddenly makes a lot more garbage than usual, and the system wasn’t designed to handle that higher level, something has to give. What gives is our ability to properly compact — or crush — the garbage in the landfill and as a result, landfill space is used up quicker.
But luckily, the opposite is true too. If a community makes less garbage, there’s more time to compact the garbage at the landfill, meaning we will use even less landfill space in the long run. The waste has more time to settle under its own weight and that makes more space for your garbage.
Simply put: By reducing, reusing and recycling as much as possible, you help create less garbage which in turn helps to conserve the limited resource of landfill space. Think about it! (Trust me, I have to.)
Thank you, Halton, for all that you’ve done and do everyday to put less in the garbage bag. Together we can keep the “Next Bag 1” a long way off.