Learning about Landfills
Focus 1: Waste
We have been learning about what waste is. Waste is basically something we get rid of when we no longer need it as it has served its purpose. Many people throw some of their waste out in the following way.
Landfills are huge holes in the ground where waste goes. A compactor squashes the rubbish down so that more can be added. When the landfill is full, the waste is covered by sheeting and earth. We watched 2 clips that explains where waste goes including a landfill site. These were: Landfill by Skelton Grange and Ask Anything – What happens to our waste by CBeebies. You can watch these on You Tube.
We have been learning more about what goes into landfills. We looked at a range of everyday items that often end up in landfills and had a think about how long we think it takes for these to decompose. This means how long it takes for something to break up into smaller pieces. We were very surprised and quite shocked with the statistics!
Did you know how long it takes for these items to decompose if they are sent to a landfill?
- Paper towel 2 – 4 weeks
- Banana peel 2 – 5 weeks
- Newspaper 6 weeks
- Apple core 2 months
- Milk carton 3 months
- Plastic bag 10 – 20 years
- Battery 100 years
- Aluminium can 200 years
- Disposal nappy 450 years
- Plastic bottle 450 years
- Glass bottle 1 million years
Today, we teamed up with some of the pupils from the Global Working Group who are looking at plastic waste. We chose some good spots in our school grounds to bury our waste to see for ourselves how long it takes to decompose – almost creating our own mini landfills. We will be monitoring this over the year.
Considering the timescales above, we now realise more so than ever – the importance of recycling!
Visiting The Recycling Centre
Do you know where your waste goes?
We have been learning about what happens to our different bins when they leave our doorstep.
Aberdeen City have invested in a Materials Recovery Facility located at Altens. All the waste materials that are placed in the recycling bins are taken here and sorted into different waste streams. The sorted/bale waste is then sent onto different facilities within Britain and Europe for further reprocessing. We plan on visiting this centre very soon!
- Some of the bulky items and waste is sent to Landfill. The landfill is Stoneyhill landfill just south of Peterhead which is operated by SUEZ. The landfill has been designed to Landfill Directive standards which came in 2003. This means the landfill is fully engineered to a certain standard with each cell being lined and capped. The leachate ( liquid produced form the waste breaking down) is contained and treated on site or at facilities off site. The site also captures landfill gas it produces to generate electricity.
- The separately collected food waste is taken to Keenan’s Recycling in Mintlaw where it is composted in large vessel composters which keeps at a high temperature for a period of time which allows the a pasteurised product to be produced which is spread on farm land in the north east
On Wednesday 15th January 2020, the senior members of the Waste Minimisation group went to Altens East Recycling & Resource Centre to see what happens to the blue lid recycling bins when they are emptied every fortnight. When we arrived, we were escorted to the training room and dressed in the appropriate equipment and informed of the health and safety rules.
When we entered the facility, we were amazed by the sheer volume of recycling! The huge building was a maze of conveyor belts and cabins. We saw the recycling lorries coming in on one side and tipping the waste then it moving through the conveyor belts and cabins where it was separated into different categories. In the cabins, the employees sorted some of the waste by hand as the machines aren’t always 100% reliable! At the other side of the building, we saw lorries coming in to pick up baled materials, e.g. plastic, paper etc. which is bought by a company then taken to its premises to recycle into something else to sell.
We learned how important it is make sure that your waste is clean and dry. Unfortunately a lot of waste is still not being cleaned which means that it is contaminating other waste. This means that this waste has to then be thrown out and can’t be recycled. Also, if the waste has been lying in the bin for up to 2 weeks in the bin, by the time it gets to the recycling centre – it is very smelly which is not the best environment for the workers! Please don’t put plastic bags or crisp packets into your recycling bin as these can’t be recycled.
Overall, we learned how committed Aberdeen is to trying to reach the Zero Waste target. It has made us think of our own commitment to promoting the reduce – reuse – recycle message in our school community. We will be thinking about this over the remainder of this school year to see how we can be even better at Hazlehead.
If you want to find out more about the recycling centre, please visit the following link: