Waste diversion or landfill diversion is the process of diverting waste from landfills. The success of landfill diversion can be measured by comparison of the size of the landfill from one year to the next. If the landfill grows minimally or remains the same, then policies covering landfill diversion are successful. For example, currently in the United States there are 3000 landfills. A measure of the success of landfill diversion would be if that number remains the same or is reduced.
Landfill diversion can occur through recycling. Recycling refers to taking used materials and creating new products in order to prevent the disposal of these products in landfills. Recycling material can include glass, paper, metal, plastic, textiles, and electronics. Other options for diversion are composting and waste-to-energy. Waste to energy is converting waste to electricity. By diverting landfills we can preserve our natural resources.
In addition to reusing materials waste products can go through biological treatment. There are two types of biological treatments anaerobic digestion or composting. Simply stated, biological treatment is the breaking down of material through the action of micro-organisms. Materials are broken down to carbon dioxide, water and biomass. Biomass consists of wood, crops, yard and animal waste. Biomass is considered a renewable energy because more can be grown in a short amount of time. Biomass contributes to roughly four percent of our energy. Biomass energy although its burned, does not pollute the air as much as fossil fuels. Some materials easily break down, others do not. The environment in which the material is placed determines the speed of breakdown.
Another method of landfill diversion is thermal treatment (such as Incineration). Approximately sixteen percent (16%) of waste is incinerated yearly in the United States. One-fifth (1/5) of municipal solid waste is recycled into usable fuel. Incineration, however, can lead to other environmental issues that may have positive or negative results.
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- "Wastes | Browse EPA Topics | US EPA". Epa.gov. June 28, 2006. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
- "Statistics". Zerowasteamerica.org. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
- "Combustion | Municipal Solid Waste | Wastes | US EPA". Epa.gov. June 28, 2006. Retrieved February 19, 2012.