When residents of an area do renovation, new construction, and spring cleaning they add many loads of garbage to the regular household trash. Cities of any size at all have historically developed methods of hauling away the regular stream of junk and disposing of it in the most environmentally-friendly way possible. Garbage used to be burned or thrown in the rivers which proved to be the major cause of local pollution of the air and water. This is the story of the W12A landfill that is the destination for trucks performing St. Thomas, Kitchener, Waterloo, Stratford, Cambridge, and London Ontario trash removal to compact the non-recyclable garbage and compress it into a landfill site.
Cities like London Ontario must do their trash removal and disposal in such a way as to conform to guidelines set out in the Environmental Assessment Act, Environmental Protection Act, and the Ontario Water Resources Act. The W12A landfill was opened in 1977 and is still evolving in order to handle three to four million more tons of residential and business rubbish in addition to the six million tons already deposited. The site covers 147 hectares, with 107 hectares being used to accommodate the quarter of a million annual tons of city waste from the 100 waste removal trucks that make their rounds collecting everything the city can throw at them.
Science has helped in the management of all this waste; older people will remember a time when the small rivers where dad used to fish as a child had been turned into lifeless toxic streams of undrinkable water caused by both direct dumping and leaching through the soil. Leachate collection piping and storm water management ponds are now used to prevent further environmental damage. The same approach has been taken to cause less damage to the air; decomposing garbage creates methane, a flammable gas which is 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as an agent of global warming, so the methane is burned in a large flare to get rid of the foul smell and to turn the methane into a less damaging carbon dioxide form.
The Blue Box Program of 1990 began to impress upon householders the need for separating and recycling trash. Can, plastic bottles, cardboard, paper, and packaging materials can go out in the Blue Box. Large appliances and other recyclables shouldn't take up valuable space in a landfill so they are picked up by either city trucks or private junk removal services. If a homeowner starts to plan major home improvements that require trashing materials like tiling, wood, scrap metal, bricks, flooring, shingles, and other substances ripped out from the house, a private company would provide dumpster rental and pick up to get the trash to the right destination.
When you see pictures of landfill sites, you may notice that they sit high up on a man-made plateau; this helps to trap the sound from the heavy machinery used to compact and move the garbage around, since earth transmits sound waves less efficiently than through the air. The landfills are also ringed with litter fences to keep bits of trash from blowing into inhabited areas. You may find grass-covered berms along the perimeter to improve the look of the landfill. Soil is spread over the layers of garbage to reduce the smells.
Various depots have been set up to drop off selected types of trash. By recycling old tires, glass, cans, and other categorized materials, the population of London Ontario has reduced their total annual garbage from 420 kilograms in 1987 to 247 kilograms in 2007. With further advances in garbage management, there may be a day when pollution is only a distasteful memory of the past.