Is California running out of landfills?


From the 1920’s until the mid-1970’s, dumps were the lead means of disposing of household trash. These dumps were merely man-made deposits of garbage throughout the United States that plagued the cities they were in with reckless disposal of trash and an awful unwavering odor. They were at its most simple definition, an environmental disaster. The liquids would seep into the ground at the bottom of the repositories and poison the soil and land around the dump. Much of the time, the liquids sinking into the dirt were ridden with hazardous chemicals or dangerous toxins and these chemicals would poison the Earth around them. Luckily, in 1976, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act changed the way trash was stored and contained. Trash depositories were forced to line their craters with plastic, clay, or both (Slate). This eventually began improving the areas around dumps and removed the environmental torment they would lay waste to.

But what happens when these man-made trash craters begin to run out of room for trash? According to, the nation’s largest landfill, in which 130 million tons of garbage has been dumped, closed after 56 years of service. This landfill had a 630-acre perimeter and stood as tall as a 40-story building, and after 56 years, finally ran out of room for any more trash. Located in Industry, California, the Puente Hills landfill, home to more than a third of Los Angeles County’s trash, closed its doors. Now where does the trash go? Although it may not seem like we could ever run out of land for trash, the process of getting a trash dump is a process that can be dangerous within its own right. A new landfill project in California can take anywhere from 10 years to 15 years to complete, and with any problems that time is increased. As well, it is difficult to predict how any single environment will react to being injected with poisonous, hazardous garbage being injected into it. Lastly, installing the ventilation to rid of the fumes can be a costly project and can take up to an additional three to five years in some cases.
This day in age, recycling is more necessary than ever before. We as a nation have begun to recycle between 50% and 70% of all garbage created in our communities, and that is increasing lifespan of landfills by a grand percentage. Alas, the only way prevent California from entirely running out of landfills is to get everyone involved in the recycling process. Through a variety of public recycling programs, the life of the Buena Vista landfill in Santa Cruz, California increased its lifespan by an astounding 15 years. This is a small step in not only maintaining the landfills we already use, but it is also the first step towards improving California.


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