December 2021

TEXT-ONLY VERSION (scroll to bottom to download Newsletter in PDF)

The environmental impact of organic waste on landfill sites

Landfills are the antithesis of sustainability.  They are the earliest form of waste management, however in the past few years we have come to realize that these sites have an increasingly damaging impact on our planet. Unfortunately, “burial” options are still offered to many pet owners as a means of laying their pets to rest. In reality, “burial” often `refers to the dumping of animal remains on landfills sites.

Here are only 3 reasons why landfills should not be your choice when laying your pet to rest:

1. Contributes to climate change

Landfills generate and release biogas into the atmosphere (Tominac, et al., 2020). Biogas is primarily comprised of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). When organic waste is dumped on a landfill site, it is generally compacted and covered. This removes oxygen from the decomposition process and causes it the breakdown of organic waste to take place in anaerobic conditions. As a result, methane is formed through this process and released alongside CO2. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas (25 times more potent than CO2). The lack of oxygen during the decomposition process results in the slow decomposition of waste that would usually decompose quickly, thereby taking up space and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. A landfill that serves a population of half a million generates nearly 1.7 million cubic metres of methane each month (Unisan, 2020). Methane is also 25-100 times more destructive than CO2 on a 20-year time frame (Vaidyanathan, 2015).

2. Pollutes and contaminates the earth and groundwater

This is due to the type of waste that ends up on landfill. Contamination can occur through harmful pharmaceutical compounds or pathogenic micro-organisms because of biological material or animal mortalities being dumped on landfill sites. Another concern is the leachate produced when waste breaks down in the landfill and water filters through the waste. This leachate often contains harmful substances that damage the environment and can contaminate the groundwater and pollute the land (Averda, 2018). Other common problems associated with landfills include nauseous odors, unpleasant views and rat and seagull infestations (Acciona, 2020).

3. Increases the risk of spreading harmful diseases

3 out of 5 emerging human infectious diseases are of animal origin (World Organisation for Animal Health, 2021). It is illegal to dump infectious animal remains on landfill sites or bury them at home due to the risk they pose towards health and safety as well as the environment. Unfortunately, due to improper procedures and management of landfill sites, lack of knowledge and the economic cost of waste management methods, several infectious animal mortalities slip through the cracks. We have also seen the negative effects that landfill sites have on bird migration and often birds and other scavengers will feed on waste from landfill sites. This may lead to them ingesting harmful compounds and further spreading harmful diseases that can be fatal to both humans and animals (Acciona, 2020).

 Why should you care?

Animal mortalities contribute to the already prevalent and growing organic waste problem. A growing global concern is also the impact that the disposal of animal mortalities and the impact it has on the spread of disease as well as the environment. Apart from that, animals and pets are often our best friends in life, and they do not deserve for their last resting place to be on landfill. It is also important to note that you cannot bury your pet at home due to the biosecurity risks and environmental contamination it can cause.

What can you do?

Use alternative methods such as EarthPet’s closed composting system to lay your pet to rest. It’s environmentally friendly and safe. This way you guarantee that your pet gets a respectful farewell and that its last impact on this earth is not negative and contributes to a healthier and safer planet.

References:

Tominac, P. et al., 2020. Evaluating Landfill Diversion Strategies for Municipal Organic Waste Management Using Environmental and Economic Factors. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 9(1), pp. 489-498. https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acssuschemeng.0c07784

Averda, 2018. Importance of Diverting organic waste from landfill. [Online]
Available at: https://www.averda.com/rsa/news/importance-diverting-organic-waste-landfill [Accessed 1 December 2021].

Acciona, 2020. Landfills: A serious problem for the environment. [Online]
Available at: https://www.activesustainability.com/environment/landfills-serious-problem-environment/?_adin=02021864894 [Accessed 1 December 2021].

Unisan, 2020. What is a landfill?Why are landfills bad for the environment?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.unisanuk.com/what-is-a-landfill-why-are-landfills-bad-for-the-environment/ [Accessed 1 December 2021].

Vaidyanathan, G., 2015. How bad of a Greenhouse gas is Methane?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-bad-of-a-greenhouse-gas-is-methane/ [Accessed 1 December 2021].

 World Organisation for Animal Health, 2021. The global burden of animal diseases.Beyond Health Impacts. [Online] Available at: http://www.gbads-oie.com/ [Accessed 1 December 2021].

EarthPet’s Infographic

Unfortunately, “burial” options are still offered to many pet owners as a means of laying their pets to rest. In reality, “burial” often refers to the dumping of animal remains on landfills sites.

What can YOU do to stop landfill burial?

Use alternative methods such as EarthPet’s closed composting system to lay your pet to rest. It’s environmentally friendly and safe. This way you guarantee that your pet gets a respectful farewell and that its last impact on this earth is not negative and contributes to a healthier and safer planet.

It is illegal to:

  • Bury your pet at home.
  • Dump infectious animal mortalities on landfill sites.

Make the right choice: Pets are often our best friends in life, and they do not deserve for their last resting place to be on landfill. Make the right choice and choose a farewell process that is not only humane and respectful, but also environmentally friendly.

EarthPet’s system is:

  • Recognised as a bio-secure disposal method.
  • Humane and environmentally friendly.
  • Effectively neutralising harmful pathogenic micro-organisms.
  • Eliminating the attraction of scavengers, rodents, birds and insects.
  • Lowering greenhouse gas emissions and diverts organic waste from landfill.

3 Reasons to stop landfill burial:

  1. Contributes to climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases.
  2. Pollutes and contaminates the earth and groundwater.
  3. Increases the risk of spreading harmful diseases.
  • Methane is 25-100x more destructive than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame.
  • 1.7 million cubic metres per month: A landfill that serves a population of half a million generates 1.7 million cubic metres of methane per month.
  • 3 out 5 emerging human infectious diseases are of animal origin. The proper and safe handling of animal mortalities is therefore vital.