What is Landfill?

Landfill is the name given to the disposal our waste by burying it in the land. Landfills used to just be big holes in the ground while modern landfill sites are very carefully managed to prevent pollution. Our waste can release harmful greenhouse gases or poison our ground water if it is not properly managed.

Until recently, all the rubbish taken from people’s homes in Devon (that cannot be recycled or composted) went to one of three landfill sites. These were Heathfield near Kingsteignton, Broadpath near Uffculme and Deep Moor near Great Torrington. From January 2019, all black bin bag waste in Devon goes to an Energy from Waste plant and used to make electricity. This means that no more waste is being sent to landfill!

Landfills are constructed a bit like a pie: the ‘pastry’ around the outside is made from thick rubber sheeting to keep everything contained, and the ‘filling’ is made from the rubbish inside. Rubbish is unloaded from bin lorries then vehicles called compacters level out the piles. These can weigh up to 45 tonnes and they drive on top of the rubbish to squash as much of it into the ‘pie’ as possible. This means that all the air is squashed out and the conditions within the rubbish become anaerobic.


Why not organise a waste audit to find out more about what is being thrown away at your school?  You could also use the follow on activities to teach the kids about the importance of being aware of what goes into their waste bin at home.