The sun is beating down on the mound of a newly constructed
baseball field as the pitcher winds up to throw his fastball to the batter who
has spent hours swinging the bat preparing for this pitch. In the distance, children are running around
a track, pumping their legs on the swings of a playset and climbing rock walls
to reach the top of an 8ft slide. Adults
and children alike are enjoying the benefits of this park that was graciously
donated to the township. This beautiful
park that was once a landfill.
A landfill? Yeah
right. Not possible. Landfills are gross. They’re called dumps for a reason. They smell worse than a dirty porta potty and
have trash strewn everywhere. That’s a
landfill. Not this gorgeous, exciting community
park! This is the common misconception
of the final destination of our unrecycled waste. And while that may have been true when your
grandfather was a toddler, that description has long been a reality of the past.
In order to operate legally in our world today, landfills
must follow strict guidelines and are intensely monitored by the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) https://www.epa.gov/landfills/municipal-solid-waste-landfills. Landfills have gone from unregulated areas
to throw trash to technology advanced engineering structures that work to
protect the environment while disposing of your trash. As the most common method to handle waste,
landfills now do so with the waste industry’s latest technology and
state-of-the-art systems meticulously managed by top professionals.
Not only do these facilities provide the most efficient,
safe and cost-effective disposal option for that unrecycled waste you often
forget about once it leaves your curb, the trash generated at landfills can
create renewable energy! This naturally
occurring and environmental friendly gas can be used as an alternative to
fossil fuels (think gas, coal and oil), bringing power to homes and businesses
and fuel to your vehicles in a way that offsets greenhouse gas. For example, Pioneer Crossing Landfill in
Birdsboro, PA produces enough energy to light 14,000 single-family homes a year
or replace almost 6 million gallons of gasoline! And that’s just one landfill. Waste Management Inc. estimates their
landfills combine to turn on power for over 440,000 homes. According to their website, this is
equivalent to offsetting 2.2 million tons of coal per year! Not a bad way to utilize waste, huh?
And if you ever drive by a landfill, you might not even know
it was one. More and more often, waste
removal companies are taking the time to attractively landscape their landfill’s
surroundings causing them to blend in with their local surroundings. This is especially true if it’s one that has
reached its saturation limit and has been turned into one of those recreational
parks mentioned earlier.
Today’s technology and green awareness allows for landfills
to be converted into something useful at the end of their functional life. Many former facilities have been transformed
into beautiful and elaborate recreational parks. Mount Trashmore Park in Virginia Beach is the
most popular park in the city. Over a
million visitors each year take advantage of the 165 acres of land that hosts 4
large and 11 small picnic shelters, a highly sought out children’s playground,
four volleyball areas, a basketball court, multiple walking trails that span
miles and a famous 24,000-square-foot skate park that has felt the boards of
even the highest ranked skating professionals.
Virginia Beach is not nearly alone in benefiting from capped
sanitation sites. What was once known as
the largest landfill in the world, Fresh Kills in New York City is currently in
development to now become the city’s largest park, spanning almost 3 times the
size of Central Park! Not only will this facility include a vast amount of
recreational, educational and athletic resources, it will contain a 46-acre
solar array capable of powering 2000 Staten Island homes! That Pioneer Crossing Landfill mentioned still
has years of life left, yet it is already dedicated to become a world class
recreation area at no cost to the community when its trash days are done. And this is happening all over the
world! Chambers Gully in Australia is
now a park with a unique haven for wildlife.
It’s not uncommon to see koala bears sitting among the many eucalyptus
The list goes on. Our
society is continually learning to successfully turn trash into a resource and
waste removal companies are determined to keep this initiative going in the
right direction. Who knows? The next time you enjoy a family picnic at
the park, you may be spreading your blanket out over a retired landfill.