The economic slump is reducing the amount of garbage sent to landfills. As a result, the life expectancy of some landfills may be extended. In Illinois, for example, the average remaining life span for landfills is 23 years. In the Southern Illinois region, the average expected remaining lifespan for landfills is just 18 years, and that’s with a 12.6% reduction from last year in the amount of waste received.
Nearly half of the waste sent to Metro-East Illinois landfills comes from Missouri. Although Illinois accepts waste from other states (Kentucky and Indiana, for example), 79 percent of Illinois’ imported waste comes from Missouri.
Industry experts have stated that the harsh economy is largely responsible for the overall reduction in waste. This reduction could delay the need for action to prevent Illinois landfills from overflowing. Previous reports had suggested the possibility of a looming emergency, particularly in the Northern region of Illinois.
Some regulations cause problems for landfill operators by being vague or unenforceable. A recent addition to regulation requires landfill operators to not place computers and other electronics in landfills if they came from households, but made an exception for businesses. (Of course, a landfill operator has no way of determining whether a computer came from a house or a place of business.)
Attitude adjustment needed
Efforts to reduce waste could further reduce landfill use, save money for individuals, companies and local government. Waste can be seen as a sign of inefficiency; indeed, the original meaning of the word waste implies that we should be seeking to reduce it, and many of us have been taught from childhood not to waste food, electricity and other things. Envisioning waste as something that should be reduced can change our attitude. And that change in attitude can help landfill operators to do a better job of adhering to EPA regulations.
It is now common knowledge that the Earth’s resources are limited, and that the continued waste of precious resources will catch up with us. Prevention is a key component in any effort to reduce waste. Preventive measures can be as simple as using products that last longer and using a product until it truly needs to be replaced. For example, a travel coffee mug does not need to be replaced simply because the finish no longer looks pristine or the cap broke a hinge – replacement caps are available.
Emulating Mother Nature
A sustainable method of living would provide methods to recycle nearly all waste into either new products, or into substances that do not destroy and poison soil, air and ground water. Nature recycles nearly everything she creates, with a minimum of waste. Emulation of this natural model, with a goal of completely eliminating waste, is the best path to radical breakthroughs in sustainable habits, lifestyles and goals of individuals and corporations.