California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Beyond 2000: California's Continuing Need for Landfills

Daily Operations

Daily operations at a landfill are carried out under stringent state regulations designed to protect the environment, public health, and safety. Environmental control systems are required by state laws and regulations to protect the environment and people.

Weighing Standards

Each incoming refuse vehicle is weighed to make sure that the landfill does not exceed its permitted daily tonnage limits. The weight figures are also used to compute the community's waste diversion progress, and to determine the proper disposal charges to users.

Unloading and Load Checking

The refuse vehicles are directed to the operations area for the day. Unloading must be confined to the smallest area possible in order to control birds, dust, and blowing litter. Specially trained site workers then check for hazardous or unpermitted wastes. If present, these wastes are safely removed for disposal at a facility approved for such wastes.

Spreading and Compacting

Bulldozers quickly spread and compact the waste in layers of about 2 feet. This process eliminates voids where rodents might seek harborage, and conserves valuable landfill volume. It is repeated until the compacted waste reaches a height of 8 to 10 feet.

Waste Cells and Lifts

Each day's deposit of covered waste is called a cell. A continuous row of cells is called a lift. The landfill is made up of many lifts.

Daily Cover

At the end of each day's operation, bulldozers spread and compact at least 6 inches of earth over all of the waste. An approved alternative cover, such as shredded green waste, may also be used. The daily cover prevents the emergence of flies and other insects, and controls odors, blowing litter and the infiltration of rainfall.

Nuisance Control

During all of these steps, site workers in water trucks spray the interior roads and operations areas to control dust. Wires are strung between high poles to discourage birds. Earthen sound barriers are used to control noise.

Surveying

This is done to ensure proper surface drainage and slope stability, to measure in-place volumes and densities of the wastes, and to control the height and extent of the fill area.

Materials Recovery

Many landfills salvage wood, metal objects, broken paving, and green wastes. Some landfills are operated in conjunction with a materials recovery facility for recycling glass, paper, plastics, aluminum, and other materials. Unauthorized salvaging, or scavenging, is strictly prohibited.

Site Security

A security fence or topographic barrier must be maintained around the perimeter of the site to prevent unauthorized entry.

Supervision

All site operations must be supervised by qualified personnel trained in safety, health, environmental controls, and emergency procedures. During all of these steps, site workers in water trucks spray the interior roads and operations areas to control dust. Wires are strung between high poles to discourage birds. Earthen sound barriers are used to control noise.

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Last updated: May 28, 2003
Landfills, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/SWFacilities/Landfills/
Martin Perez: Martin.Perez@calrecycle.ca.gov (916) 323-0834