What is a Landfill For more information about these topics by paulj


									Do you have a science question about southeastern Idaho
that you have been wanting to ask, but haven't? Well, what                        Today’s Question
are you waiting for!? E-mail your questions to us at                                 Answered by:
askascientist@postregister.com and a local scientist will                            Ben Losinski
answer them for you in the Ask A Scientist column or on the                           12th Grade
Ask A Scientist website.
                                                                               Idaho Falls High School
                                                                                  Ben was a winner
Q: According to EPA, U.S. residents, businesses, and institutions            of the Idaho Falls Earth Day
   produce approximately 4.5 pounds of waste per person per                         Essay Contest
   day. That means about 400,000 pounds of garbage is
   produced each day in Bonneville County and that number will grow as our population grows.
   What would you do as a county official to formulate a long-term plan for handling all that
       A: As a county officer, I would establish a three-pronged waste program that would establish
                 accessible recycling, landfill reclamation, and compost development.
                            Recycling in Southeastern Idaho is ineffective at best, with most of the
                          smaller communities lacking easy access and the larger ones failing to have
                           curbside assistance. The reason for these shortcomings can be found in
                              cost upon the taxpayers for such services. These expenses are well
                               worth the investment, however, if they mean a decrease in general
                               waste output and land usual for waste purposes. Along similar lines,
                               landfills have proven to be the most widely accepted forms of garbage
                             disposal in the American West. Such pits however, can be both unsightly
                            and dangerous if left uncovered. I would enact similar policies to the Idaho
                            Falls Freeman Park project while working for the county, working to cover
                            landfills and build parks and land reclamation in their places. The final part
                            of my plan is found in my desire to see waste separation between
   biodegradable materials and those that fail to decompose. Separation of such refuse would allow for
   large-scale compost projects to help enrich the soil of the area. (Excerpt from Ben’s winning essay)

                                        What is a Landfill?
About 80% of all waste is taken to an underground garbage dump known as a landfill. What do you
think happens to all the waste we send to our landfill? Let’s construct a mini-landfill to find out.

Materials: large glass or plastic jar, various pieces of garbage to bury (small food scraps, bones,
metals, cardboard, paper, plastic), soil from garden area (not sterilized potting soil), water, plastic wrap
1. Fill the jar about half full of soil. Add 4 or 5 different pieces of garbage.
   Keep a list of all the things you put in.
2. Cover the garbage with more soil. Sprinkle the soil with water and cover
   the top of the jar with plastic wrap. Place the jar in a warm place for
   about ten days.
3. Empty the contents of the jar onto a newspaper and examine the bits of
   garbage. Record any changes that you see. Repeat several times.
Did you notice any pieces that started to decompose or fall apart? That
means they are “biodegradable!” Did some of the things stay just the way
they were when you started? This means that they’re not biodegradable. In
fact, some types of plastic will NEVER break down in a landfill – they will be there forever!

                  For more information about these topics, coordinating
                  lesson plans, and applicable content standards, go to
                           www.stoller-eser.com/nie/         Complied by Stoller ESER

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