Anatomy of a Landfill

You may think that a landfill or dump site is just a giant hole in the ground, but EPA and OSHA have a much greater say processing your trash.


When I was a kid, my family lived near Ann Arbor, MI next to a landfill. I remember watching the giant trash trucks drive in. There were seagulls and pigeons flying around all the time. I even remember during the summer you could smell it. It really did stink. We moved away when I was in the second grade. When I was older and went for a walk down memory lane the landfill was gone and in its place was this:

The landfill had become a park. I though, “that is so cool,” I didn’t know this was a common practice. There are many factors to consider when city planners get together and “build” a landfill.

Here is a diagram of a landfill for the community of Monterey, CA that includes reuse of menthane gas providing energy.


Kind of cool. We have discovered a way to turn our trash into energy, bioenergy.

landfill layers

Prepared Subgrade: This is the raw soil the creates the outline of the landfill.

Compacted Clay: Clay is added and compacted to form a natural barrier filter in between the liner and earth.

Geomembrane: This is a high-density plastic liner that is impermeable and extremely resistant to decomposing chemicals and compounds, also called Leachates.

Pipe System: Pipes are installed to exhaust methane gases (Leachates) that will be produced during decomposition. This exhaust is funneled through a management facility to create significantly less air pollution. Sometimes the facility energy plant renewing the exhaust into usable energy.

Geotextile Filter: This material is sometimes used over the pipe intake to reduce the debris entering the pipe systems.

Leachate Collection Layer: A layer of sand, gravel or hard plastic mesh that allows the Leachates to seep to the pipe system by way of gravity.

Waste Layer: The trash that is dumped into the land fill.

Daily Cover: The waste layer is covered daily with soil or other approved materials to reduce odors, keep litter from blowing around and also to help scavengers and pests.

When the landfill reaches its planned capacity these layers are added.

Compacted Clay: This layer of compacted clay prevents excess water and moisture from entering the landfill. The addition of water forms more gas which would cause unneeded air pollution and offensive odor.

Geomembrane: The top geomembrane with the clay promotes a better top seal on the landfill.

Drainage Layer: Gravel to help filter in between the cover soil and geomembrane.

Protective Cover Soil: Protects the landfill cap system and provides additional moisture retention to help support the cover vegetation.

Top Soil: Helps to support and maintain the growth of vegetation by retaining moisture and providing nutrients.

Cover Vegetation: As portions of the landfill are completed, native grasses and shrubs are planted and the areas are maintained as open spaces. The vegetation is visually pleasing and prevents erosion of the underlying soils.

So there you have it. What you thought was a useless hole in the ground not. It is a well engineered, necessary part of our existence that is being put to the best use possible.

Request special trash pickup

Why would you need to request special trash pickup?

special trash pickup

Special Trash is defined differently by each municipality around the country. The general understanding is trash that is too large to fit into a receptacle or that consists of hazardous chemicals that cannot be taken to a landfill.

Items that do not fit into a regular size trash bin require special trash pick up. These are items that can NOT be disposed of regularly do to size and material:

special trash pickup

  • Air conditioners
  • Stoves
  • Dish washers
  • Washing machines and dryers
  • Water heaters
  • Lawn mowers
  • Doors
  • Sinks
  • Toilets
  • Mattresses
  • Furniture
  • Televisions

Large trash items cannot always be lifted by the truck, or put into a standard truck compactor. These items may need to be lifted by two workers or may need to be loaded on a special truck and taken to a special dump or recycling center.

Special Trash Pickup for Chemicals is required by some municipalities.

special trash pickup

There are many household items that have stickers and warning labels. These labels address safety for both the use and the disposal of the contents as well as the container. Landfills are responsible to avoid various levels of contamination depending on the anatomy of the landfill.

Tires: Tires require special trash pickup or disposal no matter where you live!

special trash pickup

The process of tire waste can be hazardous directly to the air and ground. Tires are extremely flammable. Tire fires cause severe air pollution. Some specially engineered plants around the world provide tire incineration which creates energy. They are equipped with sophisticated ventilation systems to minimize air pollution. Most landfills will be cited and fined if they accept tires.

For more information about when you should request special trash pick up visit the website or call your local solid waste department.

In Cobb County, GA for information concerning solid waste services please email or call (678) 581-5488.


Special Waste is not for General Trash Disposal

When you order a dumpster for a clean up project, you may imagine you can put anything in it.

Of course you do. You call the company, they bring you the dumpster, they take it and dump it at the landfill. Who cares what’s in it? Well, believe it or not, there are standards to which the Roll Off Service Provider is responsible to ensure the load does not contain any special/hazardous waste materials.

special waste

Items that require special arrangements to dispose legally.

This is a list of Acceptable Waste, obtained from AugustaGA.Gov for your Rented Dumpster:

  • Household waste: garbage, trash, sanitary waste, furniture (non-metallic), televisions, porcelain products, mattresses, and appliances derived from single and multiple family residences, hotels, motels, crew quarters, picnic grounds, day-use recreation facilities, bunkhouses, and ranger stations.
  • Inert waste: non-hazardous waste soil, concrete, cured asphalt, rock, bricks, yard trimmings, stumps, limbs, logs, untreated and unpainted lumber, leaves, and pine straw.
  • Construction and Demolition waste: waste building materials and rubble resulting from construction, remodeling, repair, paving, and demolition operations. This includes such items as wood, brick, concrete, metal, wallboard, insulation, and other non-hazardous building materials.
  • Metal waste: pipe, wire, washers and dryers, refrigerators (all coolant must be removed prior to transporting to landfill) lawnmowers, wheels, and other large metal household items.
  • Tires: solid or pneumatic rubber tires are accepted, but must be placed in the area
    specifically designated and demarcated for this waste.
  • Industrial waste: non-hazardous solid waste, including food products, metal, leather and leather products, plastics, pulp, paper, stone, glass, and concrete. Depending on the specific nature and volume of the waste, the landfill may require that special handing and/or testing be conducted on industrial waste. Customers planning to dispose of such waste should contact the landfill for additional information prior to shipment.

These are the Restricted Items:

Industrial Waste

Asbestos Containing Waste

Bio-hazardous Waste

Petroleum Contaminated Soil

Refrigerant Containing Waste
Read to clarify the restrictions at AugustaGA.Gov

If you are concerned about the materials you need to dispose of, Call us! We will be happy to assist you!

Dumpsters and Trash in Cobb County and Paulding County, GA

Taking out the trash? Where does the trash go when my dumpster is emptied?

In Cobb County, GA and Paulding County, GA, trash is taken to a landfill or transfer station.

A Sanitary Landfill is where non-hazardous waste, residential trash, green waste, construction waste is spread and compacted between layers of soil and dirt.

A Secure Landfill is specifically designed for the disposal of hazardous waste. At these landfills holes and trenches are lined with impervious plastic sheeting to prevent leaking and leaching of environmentally dangerous materials into the soil and water supply.

A Transfer Station is a service offered in many communities that acts as a intermediate location for waste disposal, at which recyclables and refuse are collected and sorted before processing to a final disposal site.

If you have questions regarding disposal of trash, we are also members of the community and are here to assist you. Call today!