Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 
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The Decomposition Dilemma

Banana Imagine throwing a banana peel on the ground and coming back to look it at a week later. Would it look different? Yes, because it's decomposing. Decomposition happens when trash breaks down into its natural elements. Do you know what's needed to help trash decompose?
  • Moisture
  • Air (oxygen)
  • Sunlight
But at a landfill, we try to keep these elements out. Why? Landfill
  • Moisture, such as rainwater or liquids in the trash, can carry harmful chemicals from the trash into the groundwater below.
  • Air just takes up space—space that we'd rather fill with trash so that our landfill will last as long as possible.
  • Sunlight is blocked from the landfill when we add the daily cover.

So, while much (but not all) of the trash in a landfill will eventually decompose, it will take a lot longer since we've nearly eliminated the necessary ingredients: moisture, air and sunlight.

Play the Garbage Graveyard Game!

Background Image: Rocky Mountain National Park by Sue Burke. All rights reserved.