Rubbish

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Chapter 1 of DVD...for more Information

In Northern Ireland the rubbish from our ordinary bins ends up in the dump or landfill site, where it is buried under layers of clay and soil. In other countries rubbish is burnt in incinerators and the remaining ash is then often landfilled.

Here are a few points to remember.

  • Our current landfills are rapidly filling up and there is a limit on how many new landfills we can build. Landfills are dirty, smelly, noisy and dangerous. They cause a lot of traffic (bin lorries) and can cause serious environmental problems – no one wants a landfill site to open near where they live.
  • As organic material like food scraps and garden waste starts to rot down in the landfill site’s anaerobic (low oxygen) conditions, it releases a gas called methane. This is a greenhouse gas which may be causing our climate to change.
  • Water that seeps through the waste becomes contaminated with toxins. This polluted water, called leachate, sometimes escapes through cracks in the lining of the landfill site and can enter the soil and get into groundwater. Groundwater often comes to the surface as streams and flows into rivers, lakes and the sea.
  • Taxes mean sending rubbish to landfill gets more expensive every year. There will also be fines for Councils landfilling too much rubbish.
  • Throwing everything away wastes valuable resources. Much of what ends up in the landfill could have been reused, recycled or composted.
  • Getting the raw materials needed to make new products causes serious damage to the environment.
  • Making new materials uses a lot of energy and produces a lot of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is also a greenhouse gas.