Landfills, to most people, are a place to dispose of our waste and nothing more. We are told to reduce our waste, to reuse materials, and to recycle whenever it is possible so that we can reduce the amount of garbage that is sent to the landfills. All of that decomposing garbage can affect the local wildlife, contaminate the water that we need to survive, and even affect the atmosphere that surrounds us and protects us from the radiation of the sun. What if there is a beneficial use for all of this trash? Can the waste that is filling up landfills around the world be used for the greater good of mankind?
Renewable Energy Solution
Everyone knows that renewable energy that comes from solar panels and wind turbines are a greener solution than burning coal, oil, or natural gas to power the generators that provide electricity throughout the world. Recently, it has been discovered that the gas released from the decomposition of the waste in landfills can be used to the same effect. Landfill gas power is created by collecting the gas that is collecting on the ground from decomposed food around the globe. The gas is then purified so that it can be burned to create electricity, generating enough to provide power for local power grids.
Value to the Economy
The landfills that are around today will be on the earth for a long time to come. The rate that garbage decomposes is quite slow, so there will be ample supply to generate energy. In addition, collecting this energy resource will not require additional expense. Everything we use produces garbage, so even when we “reduce, reuse, and recycle” on a daily basis, the supply will be around for decades. Instead of spending a lot of time and money extracting fossil fuels from the earth, we can make use of the “free” fuel that is right in our backyard.
Landfill gas combustion is a great investment. The amount of methane gas that a landfill produces is highly predictable, according to landfill gas energy experts, when the atmospheric conditions are calculated in relation to the amount of waste present. The gas generation process is an ongoing means of producing electricity that is not often halted by environmental circumstances. Other methods of renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, have periods of time were low wind or cloud cover temporarily stop energy production.
Benefits to the Environment
Burning fossil fuels produces a great amount of energy, but it is not great for the environment. The combustion of these types of resources produces a significant amount of carbon dioxide that can be a concern for global warming. The burning of fossil fuels releases small particles into the air that can be detrimental to human respiration and overall health. Coal miners have been known to contract a disease known as black lung from collecting the resources to produce energy. Imagine the kind of exposure that the burning of raw materials presents and the kind of damage that can be done after years of breathing contaminated air.
Landfill gas consists of 50 percent methane, which is a major concern for creating the “greenhouse effect” within the atmosphere. Burning methane will break it down into water and carbon dioxide, which presents far less environmental dangers. Carbon dioxide may leave its footprint in the atmosphere, but a study in 2007 has revealed that methane is a greenhouse gas that is at least 25 percent more potent.
We all produce waste on a daily basis that fill up the landfills around the world. Even if there was no additional garbage from this day forward, we would still have plenty of landfill gas to generate electricity to the power grids for decades to come. Reduce, reuse, and recycle your garbage and send the rest to a landfill that allows the gases released from the decomposition process to be turned into a reliable source of reusable energy.