he number of landfills in the U.S. is decreasing, resulting in dwindling airspace available to hold our waste. If you own a landfill, you must ask, “Is my landfill an asset or a liability?” – The answer is “yes, it is an asset”.

Like any asset local landfill owners need to protect, improve and maximize these sites for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Protect Against the NIMBY Threat to Landfills

Let’s face it: nobody likes landfills. They’re ugly. They smell. They attract seagulls. But until we can devise methods to recycle or eliminate all residential and construction waste and coal ash, landfills must be a fixture on our landscape for the foreseeable future. But communities are campaigning to close their local landfills every day. Just Google “not in my backyard landfill” and you’ll come up with over 3 million hits.

Every time residents swing into action and win a NIMBY argument to get their nearest landfill closed, they really solve nothing. Waste will still be generated – ironically, some of it by them – and all they accomplish is to kick their cans, literally, down the road to somebody else’s backyard – “SEBY”. Maybe we should start calling it SEBY instead of NIMBY.

So, before folks shut down their community landfill and assume their trash will be trucked to somebody else’s back yard without consequences of some kind, they should improve and maximize what they have. The technology is out there. It just takes open minds willing to consider all the options.

The waste management business is a “Quasi-Utility”. Everyone needs waste management services and despite individual or family recycling efforts; everyone produces waste that needs to be collected, transported and stored for the long-term (disposal).

– CEO, Major Waste Company

Why Landfill Assets Can Whether Regulatory Uncertainty

Over the years, the regulations to permitting and operations have become so complex and so costly in a lot of their requirements it seems unlikely for future investment. However, just about any active landfill is an asset that can be operationally improved or expanded promoting investment into technologies like active gas collection systems, better landfill operational and better monitoring equipment. So local landfills can keep up or exceed regulatory uncertainly by investing in site improvements and spreading those costs over many more years of service.

Since the number of landfills are shrinking, there are plenty of waste streams needing landfill airspace which in turn promotes financial investment. Because of this unique market condition revenues will never out way increased operational, regulatory, and permitting costs. So increasing the useful life of a local landfill (more airspace) becomes paramount to the environmental stewardship initiative.

JOHN SWENSONFounder | Inventor | Owner
“Going GREEN while saving GREEN.”

Maximized Landfill Assets Can Turn Into Community Assets

The question all stakeholders should ask themselves is not, How soon can we close the landfill?” but, “How can we extend our landfill’s life without giving up any more land?”

As recycling evolves, disposal technology evolves in counterpoint. safeBERM® Encapsulated Mechanically Stabilized Earthen (eMSE) systems are one way to enable landfills to increase capacity without increasing footprint, which can extend their useful lives by decades.

Always maximize the landfill asset because the closing of one landfill means the expansion or creation of another landfill.

But let’s not stop at simply creating more landfill airspace. Environmental stewardship goes way beyond just protecting the environment. Landfill owners should consider all stakeholders’ concerns and community needs (farmland, wetlands, lack of open space, beneficial use) and add them to the pot. When all options for landfill maximization are on the table to explore, it can result in winning propositions all the stakeholders can “live with.”




Creativity, ingenuity, and innovation is the answer to find a middle-path, but it takes all stakeholders to embrace change.