Brush, Leaf & Yard
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Organic materials are a major contributor to almost every problem facing modern landfills. As they slowly decompose, organics generate lots of methane gas. While methane is captured and used to make electricity at the landfill, over 50% of the methane escapes into the environment. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, 25 times worse for the environment than the carbon dioxide emissions from cars and coal fired power plants. Organics collection and digestion keeps this harmful gas from the atmosphere and actually puts it to good use.
Organic materials are high in moisture content. This moisture travels through the landfill picking up chemicals and toxins from the other materials buried there. This harmful stew is called leachate. Landfills have leachate collection systems, but these systems can become clogged by loose trash. The liners of landfills can develop cracks over time and this allows leachate to seep out and penetrate our groundwater.
When organic material is placed into a landfill, we waste a valuable resource. For example, this material is rich with nutrients. The digestion process creates compost that contains the valuable nutrients that were present in the organic material. When farmers and backyard gardeners use that compost, they are returning those nutrients to the soil to be utilized. Organic material is also a renewable energy source because, as discussed earlier, the captured methane is used to produce electricity. Also processing the organics material through a digester can also heat buildings, and even be processed further into compressed natural gas (CNG), which could be used to fuel vehicles - including collection vehicles.
In short, instead of taking organic material that we no longer want or need and burying it in a landfill, we can take it, process it, and produce valuable renewable resources immediately. Rather than asking why we do this, perhaps a better question would be to ask why we haven't been doing this all along.