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The Disposal Process

Disposal of Trash at UMass Amherst

Trash that is collected on campus in one of the two OWM trash packer trucks is then transported to the WRTF where it is consolidated in large transfer trailers for shipment to the Holyoke Transfer Station. Four to five packer truck loads will fit into the 90 cubic yard compaction trailer -which holds up to 25 tons of trash.

During the academic calendar at UMass, trash trailers are shipped 3 times per week to Holyoke. The private operators of this transfer station have the option - including via rail haul - of where to ship the trash for final disposal. For the most part, UMass trash is consolidated with trash from other sources and shipped for final disposal at the Casella owned Southbridge Mass. landfill. To view a vendor produced video portraying typical Casella landfill operations - including  company assertions regarding environmental safety, see Casella Resource Solutions.

The following is an excerpt from Sanitary Landfills: Definitions and Issues authored by Margaret Cunningham:

"What Are Sanitary Landfills?"

"When you throw away half-eaten food or a broken item, do you ever think about what happens next? For most people, once an item goes in the trashcan, it is no longer thought of, but for the item, the journey continues.

Historically, trash was removed from the home or business and placed in large open-air piles. This method resulted in harsh odors, contamination, and infestations by rodents and insects.

In 1935, a new system of waste disposal, called sanitary landfills, was created in Fresno, California. Currently, over 55% of all municipal solid waste that is created in the United States is disposed of in sanitary landfills. Sanitary landfills are a method of waste disposal where the waste is buried either underground or in large piles. This method of waste disposal is controlled and monitored very closely.

For sanitary landfills, the process starts by digging a large hole in the ground that is then lined with thick plastic (normally 2-4 feet thick) and a layer of impervious clay. The bottom of the landfill is also lined with a network of plumbing that functions as a collection system for any liquids. Leachates is the term used to describe liquids that leach or leak from the landfill, and this system collects the leachates. These components of the sanitary landfill help prevent materials and liquids from spreading to the surrounding ground and waterways.

Once the landfill is set up, waste can then be added to the landfill. Instead of simply filling the landfill completely with waste, the landfill is organized in layers. The layers alternate between waste and soil. This alternation of materials reduces odors and allows for more rapid decomposition, which is the breakdown of materials. When a landfill is full, it is sealed and covered in a thick layer of clay. Once the landfill has been evaluated and considered safe, it can be converted into a park or open space for human use. It is interesting to think that a location where we put our unwanted materials can then be turned into a location for recreation and fun."

- The above is an excerpt from Sanitary Landfills: Definitions and Issues authored by Margaret Cunningham.